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Pentagon: Cruise passengers to be quarantined at four military bases

Pentagon: Cruise passengers to be quarantined at four military bases
© CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / Getty

The Pentagon will provide four U.S. military facilities for passengers to be quarantined after they are removed from a 3,500-person cruise ship that has had an outbreak of the coronavirus, the Defense Department announced Monday.

American passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship will be taken to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif., Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas; Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, in San Diego, Calif.; and Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Ga., where they will be tested for COVID-19 and quarantined for 14 days.

The Grand Princess ship, which docked at the Port of Oakland, Calif., on Monday, has at least 21 passengers infected with the illness. 

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will screen each passenger as they disembark. The passengers who do not show any symptoms will be transferred to the military bases for the quarantine period, with Travis AFB and Miramar expected to house the most passengers at about 1,000, according to U.S. Northern Command.

CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services — not the Defense Department — will handle the transportation of the passengers to the bases.

“The DoD members on the base have no contact with these passengers. HHS and CDC handle all aspects of the quarantine. DoD is only providing lodging,” Northcom said on Twitter.

Robert Salesses, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for homeland defense integration, told reporters at the Pentagon that passengers will be “secluded” in single rooms during the 14 days and will be removed from the base if they show any symptoms.

Federal health officials and the U.S. State Department earlier this week recommended all travelers avoid cruise ships as the novel coronavirus spreads globally.

Another 700 passengers aboard a separate cruise ship called the Diamond Princess were infected by the coronavirus last month.

More than 111,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, including more than 600 cases in the U.S, most of which are centered in parts of Washington state and California. Of those cases, three active-duty service members have tested positive for the illness.