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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

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.