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14 Americans on Evacuation Plane Test Positive for Coronavirus

Filipinos voluntarily evacuated due to the coronavirus outbreak board a plane from Wuhan, Hubei, China, February 9, 2020. (Courtesy of Department of Foreign Affairs/Handout via Reuters)

Fourteen Americans aboard two chartered evacuation flights back to the U.S. have tested positive for the coronavirus, the State Department said Monday.

The infected individuals were among hundreds released after two weeks in quarantine aboard a Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, which was carrying about 380 Americans and their family members. Before boarding the flights, they were screened for the virus and found to be without symptoms and fit to fly, but officials afterwards learned they had tested positive.

The two evacuation flights left from Tokyo, and one landed at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento, Calif., while the other landed at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

“These individuals were moved in the most expeditious and safe manner to a specialized containment area on the evacuation aircraft to isolate them in accordance with standard protocols,” the State Department said in a statement.

“During the flights, these individuals will continue to be isolated from the other passengers,” the statement said.

Once in the U.S., those who tested positive will be quarantined for two weeks in “an appropriate location for continued isolation and care.”

So far, the U.S. has 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, not including the 14 new cases.

The virus, a respiratory illness, originated in Wuhan, China, and has killed at least 1,770 people, most of whom were elderly or otherwise suffered from compromised immune systems, and infected over 70,000 in China.

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