U.S. State Department says 14 test positive for coronavirus from cruise ship in Japan

Fourteen Americans who were among the hundreds evacuated from a quarantined cruise ship off Yokohama, Japan Sunday have tested positive for the novel coronavirus that has claimed more than 1,700 lives in a growing outbreak in China.

More than 300 U.S. citizens and their immediate family members who had been passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship were taken off the vessel and repatriated back to the U.S. on two charter flights.

In a statement released early Monday, the U.S. State Department spokesperson said American evacuees were all deemed asymptomatic and fit to fly before being processed for evacuation.

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U.S. citizens evacuated from the Diamond Princess
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U.S. citizens evacuated from the Diamond Princess
In this image from a video taken on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, Paul Molesky, right, and Cheryl Molesky, who evacuated off the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess, film selfie video aboard a Kalitta Air plane bound for the U.S., at Haneda airport in Tokyo.(Cheryl and Paul Molesky via AP)
A group of ambulances from the Solano EMS Cooperative stage at the visitor center at Travis Air Force Base, adjacent to Fairfield, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. A group of Americans cut short a 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, to be whisked back to America. But they will have to spend another quarantine period at U.S. military facilities including Travis to make sure they don't have the new virus that's been sweeping across Asia. (AP Photo/Hector Amezcua)
A group of ambulances from the Solano EMS Cooperative stage at the visitor center at Travis Air Force Base, adjacent to Fairfield, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. A group of Americans cut short a 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, to be whisked back to America. But they will have to spend another quarantine period at U.S. military facilities including Travis to make sure they don't have the new virus that's been sweeping across Asia. (AP Photo/Hector Amezcua)
The quarantined ship Diamond Princess is pictured through barbed wire at Yokohama port in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Japanese officials have confirmed 99 more people infected by the new virus aboard the ship, the Health Ministry said Monday. (Mayuko Isobe/Kyodo News via AP)
In this image from a video taken on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, U.S. passengers who evacuated off the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess and officials wait for the takeoff of a Kalitta Air airplane bound for the U.S., at Haneda airport in Tokyo.(Cheryl and Paul Molesky via AP)
In this image from a video taken on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, U.S. passengers who evacuated off the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess, wait for the takeoff of a Kalitta Air plane bound for the U.S., at Haneda airport in Tokyo.(Cheryl and Paul Molesky via AP)
In this image from a video taken on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, U.S. passengers who evacuated off the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess, board a Kalitta Air plane bound for the U.S., at Haneda airport in Tokyo.(Cheryl and Paul Molesky via AP)
In this image from a video taken on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, U.S. passengers who evacuated off the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess, board a Kalitta Air plane bound for the U.S., at Haneda airport in Tokyo.(Cheryl and Paul Molesky via AP)
A bus carrying U.S. passengers who were aboard the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess arrives at Haneda airport in Tokyo, before the passengers board a Kalitta airplane chartered by the U.S. government Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. The cruise ship was carrying nearly 3,500 passengers and crew members under quarantine. (Sadayuki Goto/Kyodo News via AP)
In this image from a video taken on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, U.S. passengers who evacuated off the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess, board a Kalitta Air plane bound for the U.S., at Haneda airport in Tokyo.(Cheryl and Paul Molesky via AP)
A bus carrying U.S. passengers who were aboard the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess, background, leaves Yokohama port, near Tokyo, early Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. The cruise ship was carrying nearly 3,500 passengers and crew members under quarantine. (Jun Hirata/Kyodo News via AP)
Buses carrying passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leave a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. A group of Americans are cutting short a 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, to be whisked back to America. But they will have to spend another quarantine period at a U.S. military facility to make sure they don't have the new virus that's been sweeping across Asia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Buses carrying American passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leave a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. A group of Americans are cutting short a 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, to be whisked back to America. But they will have to spend another quarantine period at a U.S. military facility to make sure they don't have the new virus that's been sweeping across Asia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Buses carrying passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leave a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. A group of Americans are cutting short a 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, to be whisked back to America. But they will have to spend another quarantine period at a U.S. military facility to make sure they don't have the new virus that's been sweeping across Asia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Buses carrying American passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leave a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. A group of Americans are cutting short a 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, to be whisked back to America. But they will have to spend another quarantine period at a U.S. military facility to make sure they don't have the new virus that's been sweeping across Asia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Buses carrying American passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leave a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. A group of Americans are cutting short a 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, to be whisked back to America. But they will have to spend another quarantine period at a U.S. military facility to make sure they don't have the new virus that's been sweeping across Asia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Buses carrying American passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leave a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. A group of Americans are cutting short a 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, to be whisked back to America. But they will have to spend another quarantine period at a U.S. military facility to make sure they don't have the new virus that's been sweeping across Asia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Buses carrying American passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leave a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. A group of Americans are cutting short a 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, to be whisked back to America. But they will have to spend another quarantine period at a U.S. military facility to make sure they don't have the new virus that's been sweeping across Asia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A bus leaves the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship at a port Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Yokohama, near Tokyo. The U.S. says Americans aboard a quarantined ship will be flown back home on a chartered flight Sunday, but that they will face another two-week quarantine. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A bus leaves the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship at a port Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Yokohama, near Tokyo. The U.S. says Americans aboard a quarantined ship will be flown back home on a chartered flight Sunday, but that they will face another two-week quarantine. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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But during the evacuation process, after passengers had left the ship and gone to the airport, U.S. officials received notice that 14 passengers, who had been tested two to three days earlier, had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the the novel coronavirus.

“These individuals were moved in the most expeditious and safe manner to a specialized containment area on the evacuation aircraft to isolate them in accordance with standard protocols,” the State Department’s spokesperson said in the statement.

The spokesperson said the State Department made the decision to allow the 14 individuals, who were in isolation, separated from other passengers and continued to be asymptomatic, to remain on the aircraft to complete the evacuation process after a consultation with health officials.

The Diamond Princess been on quarantine since Feb. 3 after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus.

More than 1,200 people on the cruise ship, which had 3,700 passengers and crew on board, have been tested since the quarantine began — 355 of them have tested positive for the virus, including some Americans. Japan’s health ministry confirmed 70 additional coronavirus cases on board the ship Sunday.

The State Department said all passengers evacuated Sunday were closely monitored by medical professionals throughout the flight and any who become symptomatic were to be moved to a specialized containment area.

One of the planes landed at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California early Monday.

Upon landing in the U.S., passengers will get off at either Travis Air Force Base or Joint Base San Antonio in San Antonia, Texas, where they will remain under quarantine for 14 days.

“Passengers that develop symptoms in flight and those with positive test results will remain isolated on the flights and will be transported to an appropriate location for continued isolation and care,” the department's spokesperson said, without elaborating on what that location could be.

Hundreds of Americans were evacuated from Wuhan, the center of the epidemic in China’s Hubei province, aboard charter flights in late January and earlier this month. They were also subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine at military bases upon arrival in the U.S.

Canada, Hong Kong and Italy have also been making efforts to evacuate their citizens from the quarantined cruise ship.

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