Returning visitors from Wuhan leave their hotel on Wednesday night. Photo: AFP
national

Virus quarantine over, evacuees emerge from Chiba hotel ready for home

25 Comments
By Natsuko FUKUE

The palm-fringed hotel in the city of Katsuura is usually a destination for sun-worshipping holidaymakers, but for the last two weeks it has also been a coronavirus quarantine site.

Dozens of Japanese have taken refuge in the beachside resort to wait out a 14-day "self-quarantine" after being evacuated from the Chinese province where a deadly new coronavirus originated.

On Wednesday night, after final test results confirmed all 197 evacuees at the hotel were free of the virus, the first handful began heading home.

"I've received many warm messages. I'm very grateful," a woman, who spoke on condition she would not be identified, told reporters outside the hotel.

Inside the hotel, dozens of evacuees were asked to stay in their rooms and avoid even venturing into the corridors.

"They had to stay in their own room and they couldn't even go out into the corridor. They had to keep to these rules," said a Japanese official.

"I was relieved" when they all tested negative, he added.

Japan has so far sent four flights to evacuate its citizens from Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, the first of which landed on January 29.

The 206 people on board were all asked to undergo tests for the virus, with two initially refusing but later changing their minds and agreeing to be checked.

While countries including the United States, France and Britain have required their evacuated citizens to go into quarantine on their arrival, Japanese officials said there was no legal framework permitting them to do the same.

Instead arrivals were asked to "self-quarantine," with many taking the government up on designated accommodation at a hotel in Katsuura, in the Chiba region east of Tokyo.

"It was a comfortable environment," the woman told reporters.

And another evacuee, a man who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the local community had offered enormous support despite initial fears.

"I think people in (Katsuura) were extremely worried when we came here. But they overcame that and really showed their understanding," he said. "Infecting my family -- that was something I didn't want most of all."

He described receiving messages of support and even origami cranes often made for those recovering from illness.

"I feel so thankful that I can't find the words to express my gratitude."

A handful of residents appeared when they departed, holding up supportive banners.

And a group of locals had previously lit lanterns to show their encouragement for the quarantined people.

Japan has so far diagnosed 28 people with the virus, including at least nine from evacuation flights. That figure does not include at least 174 passengers and crew aboard a quarantined cruise ship, along with a quarantine officer working on the vessel.

The male evacuee said his thoughts were with those on the ship, which will be in quarantine until Feb 19.

"People on the cruise ship are in a worse situation than we were," he said. "Our feelings of worry were overcome because of the words of encouragement from people in Katsuura. But people on the cruise ship are not in such circumstances.

"I think there should be more support and understanding for them," he added.

Authorities have taken measures to limit the spread of the virus, restricting entry of people who have recently travelled to Hubei, or those with passports issued in the region.

On Wednesday it expanded those restrictions to cover people who have recently been to Zhejiang province or have passports issued from the area.

Around 36 people were leaving the Katsuura hotel on Wednesday night, with more expected to make their way home in the morning.

Those who arrived on later flights are still waiting out the rest of their quarantine period and are expected to undergo final testing before they are given the all-clear to go home.

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


25 Comments
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Good for them, glad they are all healthy. Perhaps some of the cruise ship passengers will now be transported to be quarantined in the hotel.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I am so happy to see that the Japanese were tested and clear to go home (honestly speaking).

Only wish the foreigners on the ship in Yokohama received the same treatment. The ship arrived with one infected and gradually climbed to around 180. The 'Japanese government arranged' flights with Japanese citizens totaled 9 infected and everyone else now on their way home.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Personally speaking the government should do the same thing with the Japanese citizens stuck on the cruise ship!

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

I saw a TV footage of the interviewed woman evacuee. She spoke Japanese with a Chinese accent. I suspect she was a naturalized citizen or a spouse of a Japanese national.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

congratulations! that's a relief.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And then there was this other news.

People getting on the ship to test passengers .....

..... and wearing no protective clothing besides their masks.

Go ahead and spread the virus once you're off the ship.

That's what you call experts (NOT!!).

Did they leave their brains at home or maybe there wasn't enough supply (of protective clothing, of course)?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Personally speaking the government should do the same thing with the Japanese citizens stuck on the cruise ship!

Not just throw some supplies and medicine on board and cast them adrift at sea? Wow, youve changed...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Personally speaking the government should do the same thing with the Japanese citizens stuck on the cruise ship!

I’m inclined to agree. How many on board are Japanese? Purely looking at numbers, even a little extra burden by the government and a little less for everybody on the ship would be a good thing.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I’m very happy for these people here!!!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

While countries including the United States, France and Britain have required their evacuated citizens to go into quarantine on their arrival, Japanese officials said there was no legal framework permitting them to do the same.

They need to draft some. To not be able to detain people to prevent a epidemic is insane.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"I've received many warm messages. I'm very grateful," a woman, who spoke on condition she would not be identified, told reporters outside the hotel.

Of course she didn't want to be named, otherwise she could risk being ostracized when she returned home as a possible spreader, something that might last for years in Japan.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japan now has over 200 cases of the virus and growing....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

apan now has over 200 cases of the virus and growing..

For the record. Japan has 203 cases. The breakdown is as follows

174 cases on the Diamond Princess

29 within Japan.

out of 29 in Japan all but 1 were infected in China. The 1 was a bus driver who driving a group of Chinese from Wuhan.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Of course she didn't want to be named, otherwise she could risk being ostracized when she returned home as a possible spreader, something that might last for years in Japan.

you mean like the way they are being treated in Europe????

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

I am glad they could leave and everyone tested negative. It is a shame Japan does not have the legal framework to mandate a quarantine and I think they need to reconsider this. I would say they did a pretty good job in spite of the fact that the legal ability to mandate a quarantine did not exist. I would hope they will revisit this law as this issue is not over and more are sure to emerge.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

out of 29 in Japan all but 1 were infected in China. The 1 was a bus driver who driving a group of Chinese from Wuhan.

]

Wrong, the bus tour guide (from Osaka) was also infected. Misinformation is not helpful.

"As the tour guide did not travel abroad in the past month, health officials believe it likely that she was infected in Japan."

https://www.japanbullet.com/news/bus-tour-guide-in-osaka-infected-with-coronavirus

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This is a wonderful news. We need all the good news we can get.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They need to draft some. To not be able to detain people to prevent a epidemic is insane.

> It is a shame Japan does not have the legal framework to mandate a quarantine and I think they need to reconsider this.

The law already exist. Thanks for the concern.

Perhaps some of the cruise ship passengers will now be transported to be quarantined in the hotel.

Quite possible that is the plan, thought they still need to disinfect before hand, so perhaps in one day or so.

Glad for these people.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The tour guide and bus driver were working together in the same bus with passengers from wuhan. They were from Nara.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hope, hope this doesn't come back and bite us later. Good luck to these people, and otsukare. proven negative through their entire stay, and have been thoroughly sanitized (old clothes and belongings where the virus may survive thrown away/burned, etc.), then let them go.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Was also a Japanese man in his 20’s in Kyoto who regularly worked with foreigners at his workplace. Separate from the bus driver and the tour guide.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not just throw some supplies and medicine on board and cast them adrift at sea? Wow, youve changed...

I never commented as such, it is you who assumes I did!

I am totally against just allowing the people to leave the ship, as far too many here seem to advocate.

Freedoms MUST be curtailed in times of emergencies or real threats to the health and or well being of citizens,.

Seems to me as well that folks here would rather see these people have their freedom and the rest of the country experience a potential epidemic. That is just plain stupid!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Great news. I hope it gives heart and hope to the passengers on the Diamond Princess.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/newpage_09465.html

Good news for those on-board. The government is going to start allowing some passengers to finish their quarantine period off the ship, in the "government designated quarantine centre" (ie: like this hotel).

Priority for passengers over 80 year's of age, those with other medical conditions, people in rooms with no windows.

They have to test negative and wish to leave the ship. (Positive tests go to a hospital instead of hotel).

Hope this relieves a bit of the stress and frustration! Take care and know we are all wishing you the best.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The tour guide and bus driver were working together in the same bus with passengers from wuhan. They were from Nara.

I find it best to stay with the facts, rather than make presumptions.

The bus tour went to Nara, among other places: The schedule seems to be being kept quiet, I presume, to prevent panic.

The bus driver was Japanese and from Nara.

The tour guide wasn't Japanese and was (and, more than probably, still is) staying in Osaka prefecture. She was first tested in the Tokyo area, with a false negative resulting.

There is also another tour guide from China, who probably picked up coronavirus while working in Japan, who tested positive in South Korea.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/01/asia-pacific/science-health-asia-pacific/south-korea-says-chinese-tour-guide-arriving-japan-found-infected-coronavirus/#.XkTYlX_PyhN

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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