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COVID-19: 16 U.S. evacuees from Japanese cruise ship moved to hospitals

Eleven Americans who were brought to the U.S. from a quarantined cruise ship have been moved to hospitals, because delayed Japanese test results showed they had the new virus that caused an outbreak in China, officials said Thursday.

Five other people from the ship have shown symptoms of the virus and have also been taken to hospitals, said Scott Pauley, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman.

The patients had all been staying at Travis Air Force Base in California since being flown to the U.S. over the weekend. Pauley said test results for the cruise ship passengers have continued to trickle in from Japan even after their return to the U.S.

None of the 16 newly hospitalized former passengers had confirmed CDC tests, so the federal agency was not saying they were positive for coronavirus.

Four of the ex-passengers were being brought to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, officials said. Pauley declined to say where the others were taken.

Two patients arrived at the Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane on Thursday in satisfactory condition with two more expected soon, said Christa Arguinchona, who manages the hospital’s special isolation unit. The hospital is one of 10 in the nation funded by Congress to treat new or highly infectious diseases.

“The risk to the community from this particular process is zero,” Bob Lutz of the Spokane Regional Health District said at a hospital briefing Thursday.

When it docked in Japan, the Diamond Princess was put under quarantine. But more than 600 passengers and crew have been infected with the coronavirus that has caused a large outbreak in China. The virus causes a flu-like illness and can lead to pneumonia.

More than 300 Americans on the ship were flown home on U.S.-chartered airplanes over the weekend and were placed in quarantine.

At the time of the evacuation, officials said 14 had tested positive for the virus in Japan and were separated from other passengers on the flight back to the U.S. Thirteen of them were brought to a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.

On Thursday, University of Nebraska Medical Center saidthe CDC had confirmed that 11 of the 13 had tested positive for the virus. The hospital said only a few of the patients were showing symptoms of the disease.

Previously, hundreds of Americans were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and most have completed two weeks in quarantine in the U.S.

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