American citizens quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan due to the coronavirus returned to the United States. Passengers were brought back on chartered flights and landed in the U.S. early Monday.
Thousands of passengers have been quarantined on the U.S.-operated cruise ship at a Japanese port since Feb. 5 due to the coronavirus, now called COVID-19.
Japan's Defense Minister Taro Kono tweeted that Japanese troops helped transport 340 U.S. passengers on 14 buses from Yokohama port to Tokyo's Haneda airport. About 380 Americans were on the cruise ship.
The passengers who arrived Monday will be subject to a 14-day quarantine to make sure they don't have the new virus that has been spreading around Asia.
Passengers were brought back on two chartered flights by the State Department and taken to one of two federal quarantine sites at Travis Air Force Base in California or Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas, according to DHHS.
All passengers were screened before boarding the flights to prevent symptomatic people from leaving Japan. They were also monitored and screened during the flight and upon arrival by U.S. Government medical staff.
The U.S. said that 14 evacuees received confirmation they had the virus but were allowed to board the flights because they did not have symptoms. The U.S. said it arranged the evacuation because people on the ship were at a high risk of exposure to the virus.
The returning passengers will be housed separately from individuals already in quarantine from previous repatriation flights.
KING 5 spoke with two western Washington women who have been quarantined on the ship.
Marianne Obenchain said at the beginning, passengers didn't have masks, but everyone was equipped with special masks and passengers were required to stay in their cabins.
Susan Anabel, a Marysville native, said she wanted an adventure: she had never taken a trip to Asia before and the price was right for a cruise. She never thought her adventure would turn into a cruise-wide quarantine.
"When we woke up [at] 6:30 exactly, he [the captain] came on the intercom and said everybody needs to stay in their room, we're awaiting further information from the Japan officials. So that's when we knew that we're not going to be going home," Anabel said.
There have been more than 450 hundred cases of COVID-19 reported on the Diamond Princess.
The death toll from COVID-19 continues to climb. The disease originated in Wuhan, China, but cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.