A bus carrying the passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship prepares to leave a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (Photo: AP)
Four Americans who tested positive for the new virus that caused an outbreak in China are being sent to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, for treatment, officials said Thursday.
The four were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were flown back to the US over the weekend, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. They were being transferred from Travis Air Force Base in California, hospital officials said.
Two patients arrived at the hospital Thursdayin satisfactory condition with two more expected soon, said Christa Arguinchona, who manages a special isolation unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center. The hospital is one of 10 in the nation funded by Congress to treat new or highly infectious diseases.
“The risk to the community from this particular process is zero,” said Bob Lutz of the Spokane Regional Health District at a briefing Thursday at the hospital.
When it docked in Japan, the Diamond Princess was put under quarantine. But more than 600 passengers and crew have been infected with the coronavirus that has caused a large outbreak in China. The virus causes a flu-like illness and can lead to pneumonia.
Over 300 American passengers were flown home on US-chartered airplanes last weekend, including 14 with infections. They were all placed in quarantine at military bases in California and Texas or a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.
Centers for Disease Control spokesman Scott Pauley said test results for the cruise ship passengers have continued to trickle in from Japan even after their return to the US The four patients moved to the Spokane hospital Thursday are among those with more recent test results. They would not have been separated from other passengers while on the flight back to the US.
Previously, hundreds of Americans were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and most have completed two weeks in quarantine in the US.
In California, more than 115 people ended their quarantines this week at a pair of military bases. One person at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego tested positive for coronavirus and remains at a local hospital. Another in close contact with that person remains under quarantine.
Also, 57 Americans who were held at a Nebraska National Guard camp left Thursday, with all in good health. They’ve not been asked to wear masks or take any other health measures, said Joe Smith, a spokesman for theCDC.
“There is no need. These are healthy people,” he said.
Fifteen cases of the virus have been diagnosed in the US, mostly travelers who became ill after returning from earlier trips to China. The first reported case of the virus in the US was a Washington state resident.
Other Americans have since been diagnosed while in Asia.