US President Donald Trump was “furious” after officials flew Americans with the coronavirus back to the US from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan without telling him, The Washington Post reported.
The US flew 14 patients who had tested positive for the coronavirus back to the US from the Diamond Princess cruise ship on Monday, among other US citizens who had been on the flight and chose to take the US State Department’s offer of a flight back.
The State Department had originally said that it would only fly back patients who did not test positive, and would leave those who tested positive in Japan for treatment. But the position seemed to be reversed as the cases were only discovered after the passengers were already off the ship and on their way to the plane.
The isolation box for those who test positive for the coronavirus is pictured on the plane bringing back US passengers who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan on January 17.
Cheryl and Paul Molesky via AP/Business Insider
The Post, citing anonymous officials, said that Trump and members of the US’ virus task force were told on January 15, two days before the flight, that Americans who tested positive for the coronavirus or who had its symptoms would remain in Japan.
Trump agreed that those who tested positive for the virus should not be on the same plane as other passengers, the Post reported.
But the 14 patients who tested positive were then put on the plane without Trump’s knowledge, according to the Post.
Trump was angry that he only learned of the decision after it was made and said the decision could undermine how the US’ response to the deadly disease is perceived, administration officials told the Post.
He complained to officials including his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the report said.
Passengers on the shuttle bus that brought them from the Diamond Princess to their plane to the US.
Courtesy of Philip and Gay Courter/via REUTERS
The US Centers for Disease Control ultimately asked for its title to be left off the State Department statement announcing the evacuation because it believes patients could still spread the virus to uninfected passengers even if they did not show symptoms, the Post reported.
Americans who had been identified as infected before the ship was evacuated had already been taken off the shop and were in hospitals in Japan for treatment.
Dr. William Waters, a managing director at the US State Department, said on Friday that discovering the cases during the evacuation was “an emerging and unusual circumstance.”
A passenger stretches on the balcony of a cabin of the cruise ship Diamond Princess on February 11, 2020.
“We had 328 people on buses. We had a plan. We were executing the plan. Then we received lab results on otherwise asymptomatic, un-ill people that were on their way to an airport. I think the folks on the ground did just the right thing by, out of an abundance of caution, moving those 14 people into an isolation area where they pose no threat to themselves or anyone else,” he said.
Around 3,700 passengers were on board the ship in total. At least 634 passengers have been infected, and they were either brought to hospitals or brought home to their countries.
Family members of passengers onboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess, where 174 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, wave and talk to them on the phone at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, Japan, February 11, 2020.