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Seoul says no plan yet to use military planes for evacuating S. Koreans on virus-hit ship

All News 15:25 February 17, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministry has not looked into the possibility of sending military aircraft to evacuate South Koreans quarantined on a Japanese cruise ship hit by the new coronavirus, officials said Monday.

The government earlier said it is considering evacuating 14 nationals, if they desire, from the quarantined Diamond Princess moored off the Japanese port of Yokohama after the ship reported an infection of COVID-19.

Asked to comment on whether the ministry is considering dispatching military aircraft to evacuate them, deputy ministry spokesperson Moon Hong-sik said the ministry "has not reviewed the matter in detail as of now."

"It is an issue to be discussed with related government agencies," he told a regular press briefing.

Earlier in the day, two U.S. chartered planes departed Tokyo carrying hundreds of American citizens evacuated from the virus-hit ship, which has reported 355 cases of the novel virus since its first outbreak on board.

With uncertainty lingering about whether the threat of the coronavirus has peaked, South Korea is making all-out efforts to prevent the further spread of the disease.

The new virus has killed more than 1,700 people and infected over 70,000, mostly in China. South Korea has reported 30 confirmed cases of the virus so far.

This photo, taken Feb. 11, 2020, shows the Diamond Princess cruise ship held in the Japanese port of Yokohama near Tokyo after the ship reported an infection of COVID-19 earlier in the month. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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