Elizabethton couple remains in Japan, CDC says all cruise passengers likely exposed to coronavirus


Tokyo, Japan (WJHL) — The CDC now says that all passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan likely have been exposed to the coronavirus. And the U.S. Government will not allow passengers on the ship to re-enter the country for 14 days after they are released from the Diamond Princess.

PREVIOUS: Chattanooga couple quarantined in Texas, Elizabethton couple still in Japan

That message came in an email to the remaining United States citizen passengers and crew from the US Embassy in Tokyo. Dr. Arnold Hopland of Elizabethton who remains quarantined on the ship forwarded the message dated February 19 to News Channel 11.

“… the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have determined that, despite all efforts by the Japanese government and Carnival Cruise officials, passengers and crew are reasonably expected of having had exposure to COVID-19 while on board the Diamond Princess,” the letter stated. “Therefore, the Department of Homeland Security, at the request of the CDC, has placed your name on a federal list that will temporarily restrict your ability to travel to the United States. This travel restriction will remain in place for at least 14 days after you depart from the Diamond Princess. You will be notified when the travel restrictions have been lifted.”

“Under the plan, the earliest I could return home is April 4th or 5th,” Dr. Hopland said. “We were originally supposed to be home on February 4.”

PREVIOUS: Elizabethton couple not among Americans leaving cruise ship after wife tests positive for coronavirus

Dr. Hopland says he received this letter February 19th revealing the CDC’s determination that everyone on the Diamond Princess cruise ship likely has been exposed to coronavirus.

The embassy said it’s working on additional guidance for those who previously tested positive for the virus and received treatment and for those who have tested negative. That would include Dr. Hopland’s wife Jeanie who remains in a Japanese hospital awaiting more testing. She tested positive for coronavirus and was notified Sunday moments before the couple was set to board an evacuation flight to the United States.

The embassy promised an update but offered no timelines. “As soon as we have more information, we will share it with you,” the Embassy wrote.

Neither Dr. or Mrs. Hopland have developed symptoms.

“We’re being held captive, and our only crime was being on this boat,” Hopland said by phone early Thursday morning.

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