Quarantined cruise passengers begin journey home, as coronavirus spreads to the Middle East

Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA - November 18, 2012: MS Westerdam docked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She is the third ship of the class to be operated by the Vista Class.

Diamond Princess and Westerdam have disembarked their remaining passengers, ending almost a month in limbo amid coronavirus fears.

Princess Cruises has confirmed the embassies of Canada, Australia and Hong Kong have chartered flights out of Japan for their respective citizens who remained onboard the ship, with the Australian flight departing in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The disembarkation of passengers who are not taking repatriation flights also started yesterday and will take place over several days as they will need to be tested for the virus which can take two-three days to complete.

The cruise line said it will offer travel assistance to passengers who contracted the virus on the cruise upon their recovery.

Around 612 passengers and crew members tested positive for coronavirus, according to ABC News. 

Upon landing in Darwin, the Australian passengers will face a further 14 days in isolation at the Howard Springs facility.

Holland America Line has also confirmed all the remaining passengers on board Westerdam have been cleared to travel after testing negative for coronavirus.

The results provide final clearance for the passengers to begin their journey home, with the cruise line working to finalise arrangements.

The ship will remain alongside in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, for at least a few more days until testing is complete on the 747 crew members on board.

This comes as two Iranians have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the city of Qom, marking the first reported deaths from the virus in the Middle East. According to ABC News, Iran is the 28th country or territory to report an infection, adding to the 75,000 people globally.

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