KEY POINTS

  • CDC says 100 Americans still aboard the Diamond Princess will be barred from returning home for 14 days
  • "All passengers and crew of the ship have been placed under travel restrictions," CDC said
  • CDC commended "the extraordinary efforts by the Government of Japan to institute quarantine measures

Americans still aboard the ill-starred cruise ship, Diamond Princess, docked in Yokohama, Japan since February 4 are paying a high price for the bungled quarantine measures that failed to prevent Covid-19 from infecting at least 621 passengers and crew, as of last count.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Wednesday confirmed more than 100 Americans still remain aboard the ship. A total of 328 other Americans from the Diamond Princess were flown back to the United States Sunday. Of this number, 14 tested positive for Covid-19 before the flight home.

At least 621 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess have so far been infected by the coronavurs Covid-19 -- the biggest cluster outside mainland China. Of Japan's 693 confirmed Covid-19 infections as of Thursday morning (Hong Kong time), 621 are aboard the Diamond Princess. The ship was carrying 3,711 passengers and crew.

The flawed quarantine procedures on the Diamond Princess has led CDC to make the decision all the remaining Americans aboard the ship be placed under the restrictions. CDC warned because of their high-risk exposure, there may be additional confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the remaining passengers on board the Diamond Princess.

After disembarkation from the Diamond Princess, these passengers and crew (including all Americans) will be required to wait 14 days without having symptoms or a positive coronavirus test result before they are permitted to board flights to the United States, announced the CDC.

"CDC believes the rate of new infections on board, especially among those without symptoms, represents an ongoing risk. Therefore, to protect the health of the American public, all passengers and crew of the ship have been placed under travel restrictions, preventing them from returning to the United States for at least 14 days after they had left the Diamond Princess."

It said if an individual from Diamond Princess arrives in the United States before the 14-day period ends, "they will still be subject to a mandatory quarantine until they have completed the 14-day period with no symptoms or positive coronavirus test results."

CDC said it has to undertake these strict measures to protect the health and safety of all Americans. It does, however, continue to believe "the risk of exposure to Covid-19 to the general public in the United States is currently low."

CDC refuses to completely blame the Japanese government for the less than satisfactory prevention procedures initiated aboard Diamond Princess. Instead, CDC commended "the extraordinary efforts by the Government of Japan to institute quarantine measures onboard the Diamond Princess."

It pointed out while they slowed transmission of the disease, its assessment is that it might not have been sufficient to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship.

People still in quarantine stand on the deck of the Diamond Princess in Yokohama on February 18, 2020 People still in quarantine stand on the deck of the Diamond Princess in Yokohama on February 18, 2020 Photo: AFP / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU

Other doctors, however, weren't as diplomatic as the CDC.

"The quarantine process failed," asserted Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, on Monday.

"I'd like to sugarcoat it and try to be diplomatic about it, but it failed. People were getting infected on that ship. Something went awry in the process of the quarantining on that ship. I don't know what it was, but a lot of people got infected on that ship."