More than a dozen infected Americans from a coronavirus-riddled cruise ship off Japan flew on evacuation flights to the US with other passengers on Monday.
Early Monday more than 300 passengers were transferred onto coaches via a makeshift passport control and loaded onto two planes heading for air bases in California and Texas.
The first flight touched down at Travis Air Force Base in California shortly before midnight Sunday.
Before they boarded the flights, US officials were informed 14 of them tested days earlier had received positive results. Authorities allowed them to board but isolated them from other passengers in a “special containment area”.
Those on board were expected to undergo a further 14-day quarantine period on US soil.
“I am happy and ready to go,” Sarah Arana told AFP before leaving the ship. “We need a proper quarantine. This was not it.”
Australia became the latest country to order its citizens evacuated from the ship, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying more than 200 Australians still on board would be rescued on Wednesday.
Some Americans on the ship, however, declined the government’s offer.
“My health is fine. And my two-week quarantine is almost over. Why would I want to be put on a bus and a plane with other people they think may be infected when I have spent nearly two weeks isolated from those people?” tweeted Matt Smith.