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Canadians evacuated from Japan virus ship return home

The passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship landed at a military base in Trenton, Ontario (pictured with a previous evacuation flight from Wuhan) (AFP Photo/Justin Tang)

Ottawa (AFP) - A chartered plane carrying 129 Canadians evacuated from the coronavirus-quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan landed at a military base in Ontario province early Friday.

All of the passengers who arrived at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, 200 kilometers (120 miles) southwest of Ottawa, had tested negative for the COVID-19 illness, the government said.

They will however be quarantined for another 14 days at the Nav Centre in Cornwall -- a hotel and conference center that has been used before by the government as an emergency shelter.

In online posts, the evacuees said medics in protective gear served them breakfast on the plane -- while checking each passenger's temperature for signs of fever.

The Diamond Princess, which is moored in Yokohama near Tokyo, is the biggest coronavirus cluster outside the Chinese epicenter, with more than 600 cases confirmed among the 3,700 passengers and crew.

The ship was quarantined on February 5 when a passenger who left in Hong Kong was confirmed to be infected with the virus.

Passengers were confined to cabins except for brief trips on deck wearing masks and gloves, when they were told to keep their distance from others.

Hundreds of passengers have since been allowed to disembark this week after testing negative for the deadly virus.

Of the 246 Canadians originally on board, 47 have contracted the new coronavirus, Canada's public broadcaster CBC said, but they were not on the evacuation flight.

It was the third flight to evacuate Canadians from coronavirus quarantine, after two earlier ones from the outbreak epicenter in Wuhan, China.

About 300 Canadians who were quarantined at CFB Trenton after arriving on the first plane from Wuhan on February 7 and a separate US charter flight were released from the base on Friday, an official told AFP.