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(LEAD) S. Korean presidential plane departs Japan with 7 evacuees aboard

All News 04:48 February 19, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with details; ADDS photo)

TOKYO, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean presidential plane left Japan early Wednesday carrying six nationals and a Japanese spouse who were evacuated from a new coronavirus-hit cruise ship docked in the country.

The Air Force VCN-235 left Tokyo's Haneda Airport and is due to return to Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul.

Fourteen South Koreans -- nine passengers and five crew members -- were aboard the Diamond Princess, which has been quarantined at the port in Yokohama since an outbreak of the COVID-19 aboard the ship early this month.

No South Koreans have contracted the disease.

A South Korean presidential plane awaits takeoff at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Feb. 19, 2020. The plane was sent to evacuate six South Koreans and a Japanese spouse from a new coronavirus-hit cruise ship docked at the port in Yokohama. (Yonhap)

According to Japanese news reports, 88 people on the vessel were diagnosed with the virus on Tuesday, bringing the total there to 542.

The eight South Koreans still aboard the ship are expected to disembark later this week if they test negative.

South Korea has reported 31 cases of the new coronavirus, with no fatalities.

In late January and early this month, South Korea sent three planes to Wuhan, China -- the epicenter of the outbreak -- to evacuate some 800 South Koreans and their family members.

The evacuees have been quarantined at facilities in central South Korea.

The latest batch will be sent to a facility run by Incheon International Airport, the main gateway to South Korea.

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