19 Taiwanese aboard Diamond Princess expected home tonight

A China Airlines aircraft departs from Taiwan to Japan on Feb. 21, 2020. (CNA)
A China Airlines aircraft departs from Taiwan to Japan on Feb. 21, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Nineteen Taiwanese from the virus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship plus one doctor who was sent to Japan following the outbreak are expected to return home late Friday night.

Flight CI7550 operated by China Airlines took off at approximately 1 p.m. and is set to arrive at Haneda Airport later this afternoon, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心).

Taking into account those with dual-nationalities, there were previously a total of 27 Taiwanese on board the Diamond Princess, Political Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Ho Chi-kung (何啟功) said.

Among them, five tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and will not return home until after they recover.

Another two are currently under quarantine, as they have been in close contact with the confirmed cases. Their test results are pending.

One person with dual-nationality has left for Hong Kong, Ho said, and will be required to undergo a 14-days mandated quarantine should that person return to Taiwan afterward.

The remaining 19 who tested negative for the COVID-19, plus a doctor who was sent to Japan following the outbreak, are expected to land at Taoyuan International Airport at around 10:30 tonight.

Fourteen ambulance vehicles will bring the repatriated to a hospital immediately upon arrival, Ho said, where they will be tested for the virus.

Those who test negative will then be transported to isolated quarantine sites for another 14 days.

To date, at least 621 people tested positive for the virus on the ship, making it the biggest infection cluster outside China.