All 19 Taiwanese who were evacuated from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship were early yesterday released from quarantine.
They were discharged after a third round of testing for COVID-19 on Friday found that none had contracted the disease. The previous two rounds of testing were also negative.
The 19 were last month quarantined on the cruise liner off Yokohama, Japan, after the coronavirus was detected in a passenger who had disembarked.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
They returned to Taiwan on the night of Feb. 21 on a charter flight from Tokyo and were on Feb. 23 placed under quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center, arrived at the quarantine venue at about 11:50pm on Friday before their release. He cut a cake there to celebrate the birthday of one of the evacuees.
Evacuee Chen Jih-sheng (陳日昇) said that he was grateful to doctors and nurses in the quarantine facility for their close attention.
Chen Jih-sheng, a magician who had performed on the cruise ship, also praised the government’s efforts to contain the virus’ spread in Taiwan.
Recalling his days in the quarantine facility, he said that the room had a window, which he was only allowed to open slightly, but added that thanks to the availability of Wi-Fi, he kept in touch with his relatives so he felt reassured.
The Diamond Princess was held under quarantine in Yokohama Harbor from Feb. 4 to 19 after it emerged on Feb. 2 that a passenger from Hong Kong who had sailed on one segment of the itinerary was later diagnosed with COVID-19.
Of the 24 Taiwanese on the ship — 22 passengers and two crew members — five were diagnosed with the virus and stayed in Japan for treatment.
The remaining 19 were allowed to leave the ship over the course of three days before being placed in quarantine.
An 85-year-old man, the last of the five Taiwanese passengers diagnosed with COVID-19, has recovered and was on Thursday discharged from a Japanese hospital.
The man, who had nosebleeds and was coughing up blood, was discharged following treatment, authorities said.
The man and his son, who had also tested positive for the virus and received treatment at the same hospital, are the only two Taiwanese passengers who remain in Japan. The three others have already returned to Taiwan.
The father and son are now waiting for a flight to return to Taiwan.
After being discharged from the hospital, the son said he felt that the sky appeared clearer than usual and the air felt cleaner, adding that he planned to serve as a volunteer in fighting the epidemic after returning to Taiwan.
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