Americans could be sprung from Diamond Princess coronavirus quarantine on Sunday

A US plane will carry Americans from the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan to Travis Air Force Base in CaliforniaMore

A quarantined passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The rate of new infections had appeared to be slowing last week, but changes in the way China counts cases led to a significant leap in the number of patients and has confused worldwide researchers trying to track the disease.

The Indian Embassy in Tokyo in a statement said three Indian crew members are among 218 people tested positive for the virus. Some of them may be reportedly quarantined for a period of up to 14 days.

The ship, owned by Carnival Corp. and operated by Princess Cruises, has been quarantined since arriving in Yokohama on February 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong before it traveled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus.

Passengers and crew who test positive for the coronavirus will not return to the USA on Sunday's charter flight.

It is understood that the Government is examining possible evacuation and repatriation options, including joining on flights arranged by other countries such as New Zealand and Australia, and is contacting British passengers and crew on the ship.

Japanese authorities say more than 280 passengers on the ship have been confirmed to be infected.

It arrived in Yokohama with approximately 3,700 passengers on board.

"OK, so here's the thing: As long as the official plan by Japanese health officials is to release those of us who are still healthy from quarantine in just under four days, why would I want to interfere with that by taking up an offer from United States officials to fly us back to Travis?" he said on Twitter.

A bus with a driver wearing protective gear departs from the dockside next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port, Japan, on February 14, 2020.

Also on Friday, 849 patients became seriously ill, while 1,373 people were discharged from hospital after recovery, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The commission said 513,183 close contacts have been traced, adding that among them 30,081 were discharged from medical observation on Friday, with 169,039 others still under medical observation.

The U.S.is expected to send a plane to Japan to bring back citizens that had been quarantined on the cruise ship "Diamond Princess" due to the coronavirus.

"We recognize this has been a stressful experience and we remain dedicated to providing all the support we can and seeing you safely and expeditiously reunited with family and friends in the United States", the embassy letter said.

USA citizens will be offered seats on a government-chartered flight on Sunday, the U.S. embassy in Tokyo said.

Separately, the Japanese government said Saturday that a chartered flight to bring Japanese out of Wuhan - the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak of the virus - will leave Sunday and return Monday.

Travis Air Force Base is already the quarantine site for more than 200 Americans previously evacuated from Wuhan.

Fifteen patients have tested positive for the new virus in the United States.

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