FederalStatewide NewsLackland Air Force Base Receives Evacuees from Quarantined Cruise Ship Affected by Coronavirus

Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio received evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, quarantined off the coast of Japan since February 3.
February 17, 2020
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On Sunday, U.S. officials announced that 14 Americans tested positive for the coronavirus after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in the port of Yokohama near Tokyo, Japan. 

More than 300 Americans and their immediate family members were removed from the cruise ship and sent back to the United States after undergoing medical evaluations and deemed to be asymptomatic by officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

After being dubbed fit to fly, the evacuees were flown to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and Travis Air Force Base in California early Monday morning. 

According to the State Department, once the evacuation process had already been initiated and passengers had disembarked the ship, officials were informed that the fourteen passengers who had been tested for the coronavirus two to three days prior had tested positive for the virus.

“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,” a statement from the State Department reads. 

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The 14 individuals who tested positive remained isolated from other passengers throughout the course of the flight to complete the evacuation process. 

Once arriving at Lackland Air Force Base, passengers will be quarantined for two weeks’ time. 

Additionally, according to the State Department, “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.”

Owned by Carnival Corp. in Florida, the 3,700 passengers and crew aboard the Diamond Princess have been under quarantine since February 3 following a passenger’s diagnosis of the virus.

Of the more than 1,200 individuals tested for the virus, over 350 have tested positive with Japan confirming 70 of the positive cases aboard the ship. 

Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, and South Korea are among other countries coordinating evacuation efforts for their citizens aboard the quarantined cruise ship. 

On February 1, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio announced its selection by HHS and the Department of Defense (DOD) to serve as an isolation site for those arriving from China who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. 

Other bases also selected to serve as quarantine sites include Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California and Fort Carson in Colorado. 

According to the National Health Commission in China, more than 68,000 confirmed cases and nearly 1,700 deaths have occurred as a result of the virus in mainland China where the outbreak originated. 

Globally, more than 70,000 individuals have been affected with 15 positive cases confirmed thus far in the United States. 

Currently, there are 81 additional cases pending in the U.S. as individuals await test results, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to the cruise liner as the Disney Princess. The ship is the Diamond Princess. Thanks to our regular readers for pointing this out.

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Sarah McConnell

Sarah McConnell

Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.