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Passengers are leaving the Diamond Princess cruise liner after a two-week quarantine in the port of Yokohama, Japan. Photo: Igor Belyayev/TASS via Getty Images

Japan began releasing hundreds of people from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship Wednesday, but the 100-plus American passengers are restricted from traveling home for at least 14 days, the CDC said.

Details: The CDC said in a statement the two-week quarantine aboard the vessel, quarantined at Yokohama, potentially slowed transmission of the virus. But it "may not have been sufficient to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship."

"Because of their high-risk exposure, there may be additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the remaining passengers on board the Diamond Princess."
— CDC statement

By the numbers: 542 passengers and crew have been infected with COVID-19 aboard the Diamond Princess — the largest cluster outside mainland China.

  • About 500 people aboard the Diamond Princess who tested negative for the coronavirus and who have not shown any symptoms were due to disembark the cruise ship on Wednesday, per the Japanese government officials. More are set to leave in the coming days.

What they're saying: The CDC said it believes "the rate of new infections on board, especially among those without symptoms, represents an ongoing risk."

  • "[T]o 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," the statement continued.
  • "If an individual from this cruise 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."

The big picture: The Diamond Princess was carrying 3,700 passengers and crew when the outbreak began — triggered by a guest from Hong Kong, who sailed from Yokohama on Jan. 20 before disembarking back home on Jan. 25, per Princess Cruises. He showed no symptoms aboard the ship, but tested positive for coronavirus in a Hong Kong hospital six days later.

  • 328 American evacuees from the ship are in quarantine at U.S. military bases after arriving from Japan, including 14 confirmed infected with the novel coronavirus after disembarking the ship.
  • Canada, Australia and Hong Kong authorities were organizing charter flights to repatriate their citizens on Wednesday, Princess Cruises said.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: U.S. ahead of pace on vaccines.
  2. Health: Lessons for trapping the next pandemic.
  3. Tech: "Fludemic" model accurately maps COVID hotspotsVirtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off.
  4. Politics: Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
  5. World: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between doses — In AstraZeneca spat, EU fights hard for a vaccine its hardly using.
Dave Lawler, author of World
25 mins ago - World

In AstraZeneca spat, EU fights hard for a vaccine it's hardly using

Macron, Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel (R) at a summit in October. Photo: Yves Herman/Pool/AFP via Getty

Italy on Thursday blocked the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca doses to Australia, becoming the first EU country to exercise an export ban due to a vaccine shortfall in the bloc.

Why it matters: The controversial step exposes multiple major challenges to distributing vaccines — even among the world’s richest countries.

Dave Lawler, author of World
49 mins ago - World

Global freedom continues steady decline: report

The global erosion of democracy has continued for a 15th consecutive year, according to an annual report from Freedom House.

Zoom in: The report calls particular attention to India, which slipped from “free” to “partly free” due to the government's “scapegoating of Muslims” and “crackdown on critics.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, according to the report, “driving India itself toward authoritarianism.”