A passenger (C) leaves after dismembarking the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Photograph:( AFP )
The Diamond Princess was quarantined on arrival in the port of Yokohama since February 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong before it travelled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus.
Hundreds of passengers started disembarking the quarantined cruise ship docked at Yokohama near Tokyo on Wednesday, after a controversial two-week quarantine.
Japanese passengers with suitcases and bags were seen walking outside to get on buses and taxis that were prepared to take them to a nearby public transportation terminal for buses and trains, reported news agency Reuters.
One passenger declined to be identified said he was relieved to be finally out of the ship.
The Diamond Princess, operated by Carnival Corp, was quarantined on arrival in the port of Yokohama since February 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong before it travelled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus.
The biggest concentration of infections outside China has been on the liner with more than 540 people infected out of about 3,700 passengers and crew on board when the quarantine was imposed.
Only passengers who had tested negative for the virus and did not show symptoms during quarantine are allowed to leave the ship. Those who tested negative but were in cabins with infected people would remain on board for additional quarantine, Japanese officials said.
Meanwhile, the governments of Australia, Hong Kong and Canada are preparing to evacuate the disembarking passengers n chartered flights.
(With inputs from Reuters)