The first group of Japanese nationals evacuated from China's Wuhan on a government-chartered aircraft amid the COVID-19 outbreak went home Thursday after a little over two weeks in isolation.

A total of 197 people had stayed at a hotel in Chiba Prefecture and various government facilities for quarantine screenings since they returned on Jan. 29 from the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak.

They all tested negative in their final virus examination conducted Tuesday after completing a 12½-day monitoring period for the deadly pneumonia-causing virus.

The health ministry said returnees on the second chartered aircraft, which arrived on Jan. 30, will also be free to return home if their latest test results, due later on Thursday, show they are not infected.

"I appreciated the kind treatment we were shown by government officials and people at the hotel. I was able to spend my days without much stress," said a man in his 30s from Mie Prefecture who was among the returnees. "I want to thank the local people who have encouraged us, too," he added.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said it will provide 50 temporary public housing units free of charge for those who do not immediately have a place to go.

The total number of people infected with the virus in Japan has surpassed 200, although most of that total has come from a cruise ship docked off Yokohama.