A top National Institutes of Health official said Sunday that at least 40 Americans on a quarantined cruise ship in Japan have been infected with the deadly coronavirus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with host Margaret Brennan on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that infected Americans aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship would be treated at hospitals in Japan. Fauci gave the number as 40, though other reports indicated that the number might be higher.
The CDC confirmed on Saturday that 400 Americans were set to be evacuated from the cruise ship and flown back to the United States where, Fauci said, they would be subjected to a 14-day quarantine on military bases in California and Texas.
“The reason for that is that the degree of transmissibility on that cruise ship is essentially akin to being in a hot spot,” Fauci added. “A lot of transmissibility on that cruise ship.”
Fauci stated said that if passengers who have not yet shown any sign of the coronavirus start to develop symptoms while in the air, “they’ll be segregated within the plane.”
The flight is due to depart from Japan later on Sunday.
The Diamond Princess has been quarantined in the Japanese port city of Yokohama since Feb. 3. At least 218 passengers, as of Saturday, have reportedly tested positive for the virus.
POLITICO first reported on Thursday that lawmakers, including Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), pressured the Trump administration for an evacuation after Roe received a firsthand account from his friend, a primary care doctor who was stranded on board.
The coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, has infected nearly 70,000 people worldwide, mostly in China. The death toll stands at more than 1,600.