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S. Korean presidential jet to fly to Japan to evacuate 5 people from quarantined cruise ship

All News 11:30 February 18, 2020

By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean presidential aircraft will fly to Japan later Tuesday to evacuate four nationals and a Japanese spouse from a quarantined cruise ship docked near Tokyo, officials said, after a rapid increase in onboard infections of the new coronavirus.

The Air Force plane will take off at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, south of Seoul, at around noon and land in Japan's Haneda Airport, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing. The plane plans to return to Gimpo International Airport on Wednesday morning.

Fourteen South Koreans -- nine passengers and five crew members -- have remained inside the Diamond Princess since it reported the first group of infections of COVID-19 on Feb. 5. The number of cases has surged to more than 450 out of some 3,700 aboard.

None of the South Koreans on the ship have contracted the disease.

Only the five will board the government plane as the rest of them apparently expressed a desire to stay on the ship, largely due to their residential status and lack of connection to South Korea. All but three of the 14 people are permanent residents in Japan, the foreign ministry in Seoul said earlier.

The evacuees from the ship will be placed into isolation for 14 days at a facility in the quarantine office of Incheon International Airport, Kim said.

The planned flight to Japan is the latest in a series of aerial evacuations by South Korea from a virus-hit foreign country. It sent three planes to Wuhan, China, in late January and earlier this month to pull some 800 of its citizens and their family members out of the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

S. Korean presidential jet to fly to Japan to evacuate 5 people from quarantined cruise ship - 1

elly@yna.co.kr
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