A passenger who was among hundreds of Americans who volunteered to disembark the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship over the weekend, told CNBC Tuesday that the evacuees received a round of applause after making it back to U.S. soil.
The repatriates arrived at one of two U.S. military air bases Monday morning via charter plane from the ship docked in Japan.
“I burst into tears. It was like ‘welcome home,'” said Gay Courter, who spent 10 days in quarantine with her husband Phil Courter near Tokyo. She made the comments in a video that aired on CNBC’s special “Outbreak” report.
More than 3,700 passengers and crew were initially ordered by Japanese health officials to a 14-day quarantine to stop the spread of the virus, though some have now been allowed to leave the vessel.
However, the Courters’ journey home to Florida may extend into March as they are held at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas under another 14-day quarantine. Gay Courter, a New York Times best-selling author, said that they aren’t allowed to leave their quarters for the two-week duration.
“We should be able to go outside. We need fresh air to stay healthy,” she said. “It’s just so hard for me to even talk about this.”
Last week, Gay Courter said the experience on the quarantined ship was “terrifying” as guests waited out the lockdown.
The quarantine is expected to end Wednesday.
The other more than 100 American passengers that remain on the Princess Cruise-owned ship or are in hospitals in Japan will not be allowed to return to the U.S. until they are cleared, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
In order to be allowed back in the country, the individuals must wait 14 days after disembarking the ship without showing any symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.
China’s National Health Commission said there was a total of 74,185 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, and 2,004 people have died so far. The vast majority of the cases and deaths are in China, where the novel virus originated in December.
About 335 people on the Diamond Princess have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. More than a dozen Americans on the ship have contracted the virus.