Coronavirus: Cruise ship evacuee recalls uncomfortable flight with infected patients

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of Americans quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship over coronavirus fears have been allowed to return to the United States.

A Berkeley couple is now being quarantined at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, along with hundreds of other Americans, after finally being allowed off of the cruise ship in Japan.

Bob Young told ABC7 News in a phone interview Monday morning that the trip was rough.

"Uncomfortable. The whole experience was uncomfortable," Young said.

Young and his wife were among the 177 passengers from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship who landed last night at the Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.

The couple is under quarantine orders at a nearby hotel.

Before they left Japan they received a coronavirus screening. Then they boarded a bus to a charter flight to the U.S.

"We sat in the bus for seven hours. No water, we couldn't get off the bus and then. It was horrible," said Young.

The State Department said 14 Americans did not show any symptoms of the virus when they were removed from the cruise ship. Their results came back positive during the evacuation process.

They were allowed to fly back home with everyone else. On the flight to California there were seven passengers with the virus.

"They had a number of people who were segregated on the airplane. They had a plastic tarp on that area. That's where they put them," said Young.

In a statement the Air Force Base Public Affairs team said, "If any passenger displays symptoms, they will be transported to an off-base hospital for containment and specialized care."

Passengers on the cruise ship had been told they would be quarantined for two weeks. But the U.S. government changed the course Saturday as conditions appeared to worsen. At least 350 passengers on ship have tested positive for coronavirus.

Americans were given the choice to either stay on board till March 4 or catch a chartered flight to the U.S. but face two weeks of quarantine on a military base.

Young said it was an easy decision. "Exponentially more and more people are getting sick on that ship, so stay on that ship and run the real risk of getting sick," he said.

Young said he has been told they will have some freedom to walk around the compound. He told us he expects to have his vital signs checked several times a day.

He isn't too worried about catching the virus, saying he has confidence in the medical system. When he finally gets home to Berkeley, he plans to have a hamburger and a cold beer.

You can find the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak, here.

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