Princess Cruises confirmed that the Japanese Ministry of Health said the disembarkation process for Diamond Princess passengers who are not taking government repatriation flights was to start Feb 19.

The cruise line said that the disembarkation process will take several days, with passengers being tested for the coronavirus and the results requiring two to three days to complete. Passengers with a negative test result for the coronavirus, known as Covid-19, are expected to be granted permission to exit the ship by the Japanese health authorities, Princess said.

More than 2,600 passengers have been quarantined on the Diamond Princess since Feb. 3 due to an outbreak of Covid-19 onboard.

Some passengers have already tested negative and have been granted permission Feb. 19 to leave the ship and enter Japan. One such passengers posted a notice of a negative Covid-19 test result from the Ministry of Health on Twitter:

Princess said that Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises' president, is in Japan with other Princess employees, supporting the response operation and preparing for the disembarkation of passengers. 

The U.S., Canada, Australia, Italy, the U.K. and Israel are among countries repatriating their citizens via charters to their respective countries, where they will require an additional 14 days of quarantine upon arrival. A negative Covid-19 test for passengers following this quarantine will be required before they will be allowed to travel to their final destination. The U.S. government on Feb. 16 took more than 300 Americans off the ship, including 14 who tested positive for Covid-19, to military bases in California and Texas.

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