Taipei, March 7 (CNA) The 19 Taiwanese evacuees from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship were released from quarantine early Saturday, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
They were discharged after none of them were confirmed as having contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) following a third round of testing a day earlier. The previous two rounds of testing also came back negative.
The Taiwanese were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise liner off Japan's coast last month after the coronavirus was detected in a passenger who had disembarked.
They returned to Taiwan on the night of Feb. 21 on a charter flight from Tokyo and were subsequently placed under quarantine on Feb. 23 for 14 days at a designated facility.
CECC head and Taiwan's health minister Chen Shih-chung (???) arrived at the quarantine venue at around 11:50 p.m. Friday before their release. He cut a cake at the venue to celebrate the birthday of one of the evacuees.
Speaking later with reporters, Chen said he was delighted to see these evacuees test negative for the COVID-19 and able to leave the quarantine venue.
"They spent a long time on the cruise vessel before returning to Taiwan," he said. "Now I am happy they can go home."
"I appreciate the efforts made by Taipei City Hospital and National Police Agency to take good care of them during the quarantine period," Chen said.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (center)
The Diamond Princess was held under quarantine in Japan's Yokohama Harbor from Feb. 4-19 after it emerged on Feb. 2 that a passenger from Hong Kong who had sailed on one segment of the itinerary was later diagnosed with COVID-19 coronavirus.
Of the 24 Taiwanese on the ship, including 22 passengers and two crew members, five were diagnosed with the virus and stayed in Japan for treatment.
The remaining 19 people who disembarked were allowed to leave the ship over the course of three days before being placed in quarantine.
In a telephone interview with CNA, Chen Jih-sheng (???), one of the 19 evacuees, said he was grateful to doctors and nurses in the quarantine venue for their close attention.
Chen, a magician who had performed on the cruise ship, also praised the government's efforts to contain the virus spread in Taiwan.
Recalling his days in the quarantine venue, Chen said like other evacuees, he stayed in a single room equipped with a desk, a sofa and a clean restroom and in the room he had TV to watch and WiFi connections to use.
He said the room had a window but he was only allowed to open the window in a small crack.
Through the WiFi connections, however, Chen said he could keep contact with his family members so he felt reassured.
According to Chen, all of the evacuees placed in quarantine were served three meals a day and the meals -- fried dumplings or hamburgers for breakfast and meal boxes for lunch and dinner -- were delivered at their doors.
Chen said after leaving the quarantine venue, he simply wanted to dine with his family. He also urged the public to do their job to help prevent the virus from spreading.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel