Being quarantined on a luxury floating hotel for days on end may not be everyone’s idea of a living hell; but everything has its limits as the Australians trapped on the “caronavirus cruise ship” in Japan are finding-out.
The hundreds of Australians among the 3700 people remaining on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama are reportedly stillin good spirits; despite being confined to their cabins for almost a week due to a coronavirus outbreak.
A total of 135 people, including seven Australians, have been infected with the deadly illness after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man fell sick while on the ship. Many of the older Australians on board said yesterday in a radio interview that they were keeping their spirits up and were philosophical about their continuing situation.
Many of those confined to their cabins on the Diamond Princess however fear the quarantine itself is putting them at risk.
Also, the continuing discovery of more cases of caronavirus on board the ship means that the 14-day quarantine period keeps being put-back.
Six new coronavirus cases on the Diamond Princess brought the total to 70 since the Japanese health authorities began testing people on the ship last week.
New cases have been announced almost daily, and passengers have grown increasingly fearful that the quarantine — meant to protect people in Japan and contain the virus’s spread — could be putting them in jeopardy.
More than 2600 passengers have been isolated in their cabins since the Japanese Health Ministry imposed the quarantine last Monday, after discovering that a man who disembarked in Hong Kong on January 25 had tested positive for the virus.
More than 1000 crew members are also quarantined on board, though they continue to provide services like meal deliveries.
Some passengers said they could not understand why only a few hundred people on the 17-deck luxury ship had been tested for the virus — people who had had contact with the initial infected man, or who have developed fevers.
Elsewhere, thousands of people stuck on a cruise ship in Hong Kong for four days have now been allowed to disembark after tests for coronavirus came back negative.