Americans with coronavirus were flown home over CDC objections: report

More than a dozen Americans who had tested positive for coronavirus and were flown home alongside others without the virus were transported despite objections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The 14 Americans who tested positive were among more than 300 who arrived back in the United States earlier this week after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, which has been the center of scrutiny over a coronavirus outbreak on board. 

When those individuals tested positive for the virus, U.S. officials had to make a choice as to whether to let them fly home alongside the other passengers.

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The State Department and some Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials decided to allow it while the CDC objected, warning of the risk of the disease spreading on the plane, the Post reported.

The plane did have a plastic-lined enclosure that allowed the 14 people with the virus to be separated from the others, according to the newspaper.

The State Department and HHS explained the decision to allow the flights with sick passengers in a statement earlier this week, without mentioning the CDC objections.

The Post reported that the CDC asked to be taken off the press release.

“These individuals were moved in the most expeditious and safe manner to a specialized containment area on the evacuation aircraft to isolate them in accordance with standard protocols,” the departments said in the earlier statement. 

Every precaution to ensure proper isolation and community protection measures are being taken, driven by the most up-to-date risk assessments by U.S. health authorities,” they added.

All of the Americans evacuated from the cruise ship will be quarantined on military bases for 14 days to ensure they do not spread the disease to others.