South Korea will bar entry of foreign nationals who were aboard the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan, officials here said today, as passengers began to disembark the Diamond Princess, where over 540 have been infected so far.
“There are possibilities that the passengers could enter Korea (en route to their home countries). In such cases, foreign nationals will be denied entry here. Korean nationals will be required to observe self-quarantine,” said Noh Hong-in, an official at the government’s central response team, in a regular briefing. Seoul has asked Japan to provide a list of passengers on the Diamond Princess.
Today, hundreds of passengers began disembarking from the quarantined cruise ship docked off Yokohama port, as their 14 days of quarantine ended. Only those who test negative for the virus and do not show symptoms are allowed to leave the ship. The disembarkation process is expected to continue until Feb.21th. At least 542 people aboard the ship were confirmed with the virus so far, the biggest cluster outside of China.
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Several countries, including the US and South Korea, have already evacuated their citizens. Korea brought back 7 people from the ship — 6 South Korean nationals and 1 Japanese spouse — via a government-owned plane. The Air Force VCN-235 arrived at Gimpo Airport at 6:27 a.m. this morning after departing from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport at 2:33 a.m. Upon arrival, the evacuees went through an hourlong health examination and were transported to a medical facility at the quarantine office of Incheon Airport, where they will remain under quarantine for two weeks. None showed any signs of respiratory symptoms, according to Seoul authorities.
The evacuees, excluding the Japanese, were among 14 Korean nationals stranded on the Diamond Princess Ship since Feb. 3, along with 3,700 people, after a former passenger was diagnosed with the virus. The remaining Koreans indicated they wanted to stay in Japan, largely due to their residence status tied to the country.
Source: The Korea Herald