Passengers on the novel coronavirus-inflicted Diamond Princess cruise ship started disembarking on Wednesday in Japan's Yokohama Port after a two-week quarantine period.
In at least three days, nearly 3,000 people will disembark from the ship which has 542 confirmed cases of the pneumonia-causing virus so far, according to the government.
The first group of about 500 mainly elderly passengers who have tested negative for the virus started to get off the ship after finishing final checkups with doctors.
The cruise ship, initially carrying around 3,700 passengers and crew from more than 50 countries and regions, has been quarantined at the Yokohama Port south of Tokyo since Feb. 5 after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong on Jan. 25 tested positive for the virus.
According to the heath ministry, test samples have now been collected from all passengers and those found to be infected have been transported to medical facilities.
Disembarking passengers will be transported to Yokohama and other train stations in the area, and can go home by public transportation.
Those who have had close contact with the infected on the ship will be kept on board for further monitoring even though they have tested negative, according to the ministry.