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Quarantine ends for Germans; Italy to fly citizens from ship

More than 100 Germans evacuated from the hard-hit Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a new coronavirus outbreak, were set to end their prescribed 14-day quarantine period on Sunday.

They have been kept isolated at a military base in the southern town of Germersheim. None of them have tested positive for the disease, German news agency dpa reported.

The viral outbreak that emerged in China in December has infected more than 69,000 people globally, killing 1,665 people in mainland China and five others elsewhere. The World Health Organization has named the illness COVID-19.

A bus leaves the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship at a port Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Yokohama, near Tokyo. The U.S. says Americans aboard a quarantined ship will be flown back home on a chartered flight Sunday, but that they will face another two-week quarantine. (AP PhotoJae C. Hong)

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, meanwhile, announced Sunday that Italy will send a plane to Japan to bring back the 35 Italians aboard the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship that has had 355 passengers and crew test positive for the new virus.

Twenty-five of those Italians are crew members on the ship, including the cruise ship’s captain. Italy’s ministries of defense, foreign affairs and health as well as civil protection officials were working out the logistics. No date for the flight has been announced yet.

European nations have reported 47 cases of the virus in nine countries. France on Saturday announced the first death of a virus patient in Europe and outside of Asia, an 80-year-old Chinese tourist in Paris.

Members of Japan Self-Defense Forces walk past the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Yokohama, near Tokyo. The U.S. says Americans aboard a quarantined ship will be flown back home on a chartered flight Sunday, but that they will face another two-week quarantine. (AP PhotoJae C. Hong)

Chinese authorities have placed some 60 million people under a strict lockdown, built emergency hospitals and instituted tight controls across the country to fight the spread of the virus.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has praised China's intensive measures and urged other governments to step up their own anti-virus efforts, saying "it’s impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take.”

“We must use the window of opportunity we have to intensify our preparedness,” he told foreign policy and security leaders at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. "China has bought the world time. We don’t know how much time.”

Matt Raw, a British national who returned from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, leaves Arrowe Park Hospital where he spent two weeks in quarantine, in Wirral, England, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (Peter ByrnePA via AP)

Frank Jordans in Berlin and Frances D'Emilio in Rome contributed.

Read all the AP stories about the coronavirus outbreak that emerged from China at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak

Matt Raw, a British national who returned from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, speaks to the media outside Arrowe Park Hospital where he spent two weeks in quarantine, in Wirral, England, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (Peter ByrnePA via AP)