5 Taiwanese to leave Diamond Princess but not coming home yet

An unidentified passenger is surrounded by the media after he disembarked from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Yokohama, near Tokyo. Passengers tested negative for COVID-19 started disembarking Wednesday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Five Taiwanese will leave the virus-ridden Diamond Princess cruise ship Wednesday morning, according to local reports.

They will not be chartered back to Taiwan until after all nationals tested positive of the novel coronavirus disembark the cruise ship, local media reported. In the meantime, they will stay in nearby hotels.

The China Post has reached out to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan for comment.

A total of 24 Taiwanese, including passengers and crew were onboard the cruise ship, now docked in the Port of Yokohama in Japan.

Among them, four have contracted the novel coronavirus, two of which are asymptomatic, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) said on Tuesday.

Taiwan has listed the Diamond Princess cruise ship as a “COVID-19 infected area”, which means those onboard will be put under 14-days mandated quarantine upon arrival in the country.

Evacuees must take the charter flight arranged by the CECC to come home, Chief Commander Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) told a press conference on Tuesday, to ensure proper epidemic prevention measures are taken.

The five Taiwanese residents are among 500 passengers who left the ship after 14 days of quarantine on Wednesday.

To date, 542 people on the cruise ship have tested positive of COVID-19.

The cruise company, Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd., announced on Wednesday in a statement that it will refund the full cruise fare for all passengers, including air travel, hotel, ground transportation, pre-paid shore excursions, gratuities and other items.

Additionally, passengers are not being charged for any onboard incidental charges during the additional time onboard.