Passengers quarantined on virus-hit cruise ship in Tokyo

Tokyo:  Around 3,700 people are facing at least two weeks locked away on a cruise liner anchored off Japan after health officials confirmed on Wednesday that 10 people on the ship had tested positive for coronavirus and more cases were possible.

While the infected patients were transferred by Japan’s coast guard to hospitals on the mainland, the remainder of the passengers and crew onboard the Carnival Corp ship were placed in quarantine and given health screenings. Only 31 results of 273 tests have been received so far, revealing the 10 confirmed cases.

The quarantine decision meant that passengers on Carnival’s Diamond Princess, which had arrived in Yokohama on Monday after a 14-day round trip, will now spend another two weeks on the ship off Yokohama port near Tokyo.

Passengers on the ship took to social media to detail their predicament, posting photos of officials in masks and gowns conducting health checks, room service meals, empty corridors, and a barren deck.

British passenger David Abel said all passengers were confined to their cabins on Wednesday morning, with staff delivering food room-by-room.

“The challenging situation for me is that I’m an insulin dependent diabetic,” Abel said in a video taken in his cabin and posted to his Facebook page, adding that regular and timed food intake was a key part of managing his condition.

“We don’t have a choice in what we can eat, the announcement recently was that they’re starting on the bottom deck and working their way up – I’m on the ninth deck.”

“This is not a good situation for me as a diabetic and I’m certain that there are many, many more diabetics on the ship.”

43-year-old Hong Kong resident on the ship with six family members, including his wife and son, said that as of lunchtime Wednesday, they had gotten coffee and water but no food. They were hungry but had snacks of their own, he said.

“I am not looking forward to the range of emotions in the next two weeks,” he told Reuters from his family’s windowless room. “Will deal as they come.”

The man, who declined to be named, said he, his wife and son had been tested for the virus, since he had a cold on the ship and had seen the doctor, but none of them had been diagnosed with it, although he wondered if the virus would show up later.

Another passenger, using the handle @daxa_tw, tweeted that he was “hearing from many sides that people are troubled and uneasy.”

The cruise ship was caught up in the global coronavirus epidemic after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man, who joined for part of the 14-day cruise, tested positive for the virus after disembarking in Hong Kong on Jan. 25. The man had joined a shore excursion in Kagoshima, southwestern Japan, on Jan. 22, local media reported.

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