An Eden Prairie couple were among hundreds of Americans airlifted out of Japan after spending more than a week quarantined aboard a cruise ship during an outbreak of the coronavirus, according to news reports.
Amy Ellefson and Ron Hildeen landed stateside Sunday in a jumbo jet ferrying some of the roughly 400 American passengers from the ocean liner Diamond Princess, according to KARE-TV.
In an interview with the station, the couple described how passengers were told to stay in their cabins as much as possible and avoid contact with others if they ventured out. Meals were delivered to their cabins, and crew members handed out masks and thermometers, they said.
“You appreciate the small things like two chairs, a window, coffee,” Ellefson told the station. “At the time, more and more people on the ship tested positive for the coronavirus. Those people were taken off the ship to hospitals in Japan and the rest of us were still in quarantine.”
The couple had spent the past 12 days waiting out the quarantine aboard the Princess, which set sail from Yokohama on Jan. 20. It returned to port after officials discovered a case of the virus on board and went into quarantine with more than 3,700 passengers and crew aboard.
The evacuation came suddenly on Saturday when the American Embassy reversed an earlier decision to have its citizens stay aboard the ship during the two-week quarantine, prompted by worsening conditions onboard, embassy officials said. The couple must spend the next two weeks quarantined at a California military base before they’re allowed to return home.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.