SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The 14 Americans who tested positive for coronavirus are now being quarantined in Omaha, Nebraska after arriving from Japan on charter flights overnight.
A plane carrying American passengers touched down at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California just before 11:30 p.m. Sunday, local time. A second flight arrived at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland around 2 1/2 hours later, early Monday.
Upon arriving at the Travis Air Force Base, seven individuals, including four who had tested positive for the virus, were hospitalized near Travis. Three other individuals who tested positive, along with their spouses, were transferred to the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Quarantine Unit in Omaha.
When the Lackland Air Force Base flight landed, the seven individuals who had tested positive for novel coronavirus were additionally flown to Omaha.
"One patient was transported to the hospital, to the biocontainment unit, because of a chronic condition, and also experiencing some mild symptoms like, feeling light-headed and having a little bit of shortness of breath, at the time. So, they were transported to the hospital for further evaluation and observation. The remainder of the patients were transported to the quarantine unit," co-medical doctor of the National Quarantine Unit, Dr. Mike Wadman said.
Japan's Defense Minister Taro Kono had tweeted earlier that Japanese troops helped transport 340 U.S. passengers on 14 buses from Yokohama port to Tokyo's Haneda airport. About 380 Americans were on the cruise ship.
The U.S. said it arranged the evacuation because people on the Diamond Princess were at a high risk of exposure to the virus. For the departing Americans, the evacuation cuts short a 14-day quarantine that began aboard the cruise ship Feb. 5.
The State Department announced later that 14 of the evacuees received confirmation they had the virus, but were allowed to board the flight because they did not have symptoms. They were being isolated separately from other passengers on the flight, the U.S. State and Health and Human Services said in a joint statement.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday that an infected person who shows minimal symptoms could still pass the virus to someone else.
After arriving in the U.S., all of the passengers must go through another 14 days of quarantine at the military facilities - meaning they will have been under quarantine for a total of nearly four weeks.
Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Italy were planning similar flights of passengers. Other governments, including Canada and Hong Kong, also will require the passengers to undergo a second 14-day quarantine.
Japan on Monday announced another 99 infections on the Diamond Princess, raising the ship's total number of cases to 454. Overall, Japan has 419 confirmed cases of the virus, including one death. The United States has confirmed 15 cases within the country. Separately, one U.S. citizen died in China.
Americans Cheryl and Paul Molesky, a couple from Syracuse, New York, opted to trade one coronavirus quarantine for another, leaving the cruise ship to fly back to the U.S. Cheryl Molesky said the rising number of patients on the ship factored into the decision.
"We are glad to be going home," Cheryl Molesky earlier told NHK TV in Japan. "It's just a little bit disappointing that we'll have to go through quarantine again, and we will probably not be as comfortable as the Diamond Princess, possibly."
She sent The Associated Press a video of her and her husband boarding the plane with other Americans.
"Well, we're exhausted, but we're on the plane and that's a good feeling. Pretty miserable wearing these masks though, and everybody had to go to the bathroom on the bus," she said.
Some American passengers said they would pass up the opportunity to fly to the United States because of the additional quarantine. There also was worry about being on a long flight with other passengers who may be infected or in an incubation period.
One of the Americans, Matthew Smith, said in a tweet Sunday that he saw a passenger with no face mask talking at close quarters with another passenger. He said he and his wife scurried away.
"If there are secondary infections on board, this is why," he said. "And you wanted me to get on a bus with her?"
He said the American health officials who visited their room was apparently surprised that the couple had decided to stay, and wished them luck.
"Thanks, but we're fine," Smith said he told them.
7 of 14 Americans with coronavirus landed at San Antonio base