HONG KONG: The Hong Kong government will send aircraft to Japan to bring back passengers from the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess, where the most coronavirus infections outside China have occurred.

In a statement late on Saturday, the Security Bureau said chartered flights would return Hong Kong residents to the city for free once Japanese authorities had confirmed the plan.

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The passengers will be required to undergo a further 14 days of quarantine after arriving in Hong Kong, the bureau added.

READ: Cruise liners steer clear of mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore over COVID-19 fears

READ: 67 more coronavirus cases on Japan cruise ship

The cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corp and carrying some 3,700 passengers and crew, has been quarantined in Yokohama since Feb 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong before it travelled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus.

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There are around 330 Hong Kong residents on board, including 260 holding Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong passports and roughly 70 people with foreign ones.

The cruise liner's quarantine is set to end on Wednesday.

In Hong Kong, there have been 56 confirmed cases of coronavirus and one death.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has called on residents to stay indoors as much as possible to curb the risk of a possible community outbreak in the global financial centre where, shopping malls, restaurants and cafes are almost deserted.

A driver wearing protective suits is seen inside a bus which believed to carry elderly passengers of the cruise ship Diamond Princess.

READ: China virus death toll exceeds 1,600

READ: Singapore confirms 5 new cases of COVID-19; 1 more patient discharged

Anger has been brewing over Lam's handling of the crisis, with critics calling on her to shut the entire border with mainland China and some medical workers going on strike.

On Saturday, hundreds of anti-government proteRead More – Source

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