Second flight for HK passengers of cruise ship due Friday night

February 21, 2020 14:18
A bus transporting Hong Kong passengers from the coronavirus-hit cruise ship Diamond Princess leaves the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan on Friday. Photo: Reuters

Around 120 passengers of the virus-stricken cruise liner Diamond Princess are expected to board the second chartered flight arranged by the Hong Kong government to bring them back home.

The flight is expected to depart Tokyo at 6 p.m. on Friday, local time.

Among those boarding the flight are three Macau residents, sources said. Two of them will head to Macau directly upon their arrival in Hong Kong.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said on Friday morning the Japanese authorities would allow passengers who tested for negative for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) to leave the vessel.

Director of Immigration Erick Tsang Kwok-wai is supervising the evacuation plan, Lee said.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said Japanese authorities have also consented to the evacuation of Hong Kong people who had been in close contact with passengers found to have been infected with the virus.

As long as the close contacts tested negative for Covid-19 and their physical condition is suitable for boarding a flight, they will leave Japan as soon as possible, Chan said.

Lee said there are still about 150 Hong Kong residents on the cruise ship, and 120 of them will board the second chartered flight.

Currently, 66 Hongkongers who boarded the vessel are confirmed to have been infected, and 44 are their close contacts. 

The administration is arranging a third flight to bring home the rest of the Hong Kong residents stranded on the cruise ship, Lee said.

At around 12 p.m. on Friday local time, the Hong Kong-bound passengers left the cruise ship and boarded pre-arranged coaches in batches. They were expected to reach Tokyo's Haneda Airport at around 3:30 p.m.

Staff from Hong Kong's Immigration Department, wearing protective clothing, conducted relevant procedures for the Hong Kong-bound passengers.

A total of 364 Hong Kong residents were on the cruise ship, including 260 HKSAR passport holders and nearly 100 foreign passport holders, the security chief said on Thursday.

Of this number, 106 took the first chartered flight and arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday morning.

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