The First Chartered Flight Took Hong Kong Residents Aboard the Diamond Princess Back Home

The first chartered flight arranged by the HKSAR government landed at the Hong Kong International Airport at around 8:30 a.m. local time on Thursday morning, bringing 106 Hong Kong residents stranded on the Diamond Princess cruise ship back from Japan. 


The passengers all tested negative for the coronavirus, and were taken directly to a quarantine center in the New Territories by specially-arranged buses to undergo a 14-day quarantine.


Secretary for Security of the HKSAR government John Lee said more than 200 of the altogether 364 Hong Kong residents on board the quarantined ship have expressed willingness to return to Hong Kong by the free chartered flights. Another batch of Hong Kong residents are expected to return to Hong Kong on Thursday afternoon on a second chartered flight.


Patients of 55 confirmed cases, their 33 close contacts, and those failing to pass the virus test, have to remain in Japan for treatment or further quarantine, Lee said.


Lee said that the operation has received support from the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in the HKSAR, the Chinese Embassy in Japan, relevant departments of the HKSAR government and Cathay Pacific.


Director of Immigration of the HKSAR government Erick Tsang, who led an advance team of the HKSAR government officers to Japan on Monday to prepare for the operation, said that thanks to the assistance by the Chinese Embassy in Japan the Hong Kong residents were taken to Tokyo's Haneda Airport by buses at a time when it was difficult to rent buses in Tokyo.


Many of the passengers feel happy and very much relieved that they can finally go home, Tsang said.


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