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Second batch of Diamond Princess passengers arrive in Hong Kong to face further quarantine

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A second plane with 82 Hong Kong residents who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise in Japan for more than two weeks landed early on Saturday in the Asian financial hub, where they will face a further 14 days of quarantine.

The first batch of 106 passengers arrived in the Chinese territory on Thursday.

The British-flagged Diamond Princess, operated by Carnival Corp (CCL.N), arrived in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on Feb 3. with about 3,700 people onboard after the virus was diagnosed in a man who disembarked last month in Hong Kong.

Japan reported the deaths of two elderly passengers on Thursday, the first fatalities from aboard the ship where more than 630 cases account for the biggest cluster of infection outside China.

Authorities said 66 of the 364 Hong Kong residents on the ship were infected with the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. They will remain in Japan along with other citizens who were in close contact with them.

Hong Kong immigration authorities are in Japan and are arranging further flights, government officials said.

Government-funded broadcaster RTHK reported delays and confusion over the latest flight, with Hong Kong officials saying Japanese authorities eventually barred some 17 people at the boarding gate, saying they had been in close contact with confirmed cases.

Those passengers were later cleared and returned to Hong Kong on later flights. They will also placed under quarantine in Hong Kong, the broadcaster reported.

Two Macau residents also returned on the flight, and were taken back to the city by road on arrival in Hong Kong.

Aside for the passengers, Hong Kong has confirmed 68 cases and two deaths from the disease and dozens of police officers were quarantined after an officer tested positive on Tuesday following a banquet.

Reporting by Hong Kong newsroom; Editing by Greg Torode and Daniel Wallis

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