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Coronavirus plane bringing back cruise ship Italians

20 February 2020 20:10

ROME. KAZINFORM An Italian military plane is set to bring back 30 of the 35 Italians on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess off Japan amid the coronavirus emergency, ANSA reported.

Five Italian crew including the captain are remaining aboard.

The ship owners said Thursday that the captain, Gennaro Arma, «is in good health and is leading his team in this extraordinary situation».

Two foreign nationals aboard the Princess died of the virus Thursday, Japanese TV reported.

One Italian passenger has tested positive for the deadly virus. He will be brought back on a separate, later biocontainment flight.

An earlier Italian flight carried medical personnel who examine the Italians. The medical team included two women from Rome's Spallanzani infectious-disease hospital: an anesthetist and a infectivologist.

Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said that the Italian government flight will bring back 56-57 former passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship from Yokohama, including the «30 or so» Italians.

Sileri told a live broadcast on ANSA's Facebook page on the coronavirus emergency that the government had sent ahead one flight taking health professionals and other experts to Yokohama so they can run tests on the former passengers.

He said the passengers would be repatriated on a second flight. «When the second flight, which will probably take off from Italy this evening, arrives in Yokohama, the people who are meant to will be brought to Italy,» Sileri said.

«It's about 30 Italians and 26-27 people from other European nationalities, such as Poland, France and Germany, for a total of 56-57 passengers, as they are negative for the coronavirus test». Sileri said the passengers would «probably» get back to Rome on Thursday evening, after which the Europeans would travel to their home countries. There were 35 Italians on the Diamond Princess, including one person who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

That group also includes some crew members, including the ship's captain, who is set to stay on board for the time being.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio personally wished the medical team a good flight.

He was accompanied by the head of the civil protection department, Angelo Borrelli, the government's coronavirus commissioner.

«I assure you we will bring our nationals back to Italy as soon as possible,» said Di Maio.

The Italians on board are awaiting the medical team and may disembark Thursday, sources said.

The 500 or so passengers on board the Diamond Princess who have tested negative for the virus started disembarking on Wednesday.

Keywords: World News,