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‘I don’t know how long people can last’ coronavirus quarantine on cruise ship, Toronto passenger says

Passengers from Toronto aboard a cruise ship quarantined off the cost of Japan after a coronavirus outbreak are questioning how they’ll cope for two weeks restricted to cramped cabins.

“We have no window. We have no daylight. They haven’t let us out yet for fresh air,” said Lana Chan.

“We’ve been cooped-up in this little room for two and a half days now.”

Chan is travelling with three friends on the Diamond Princess, along with some 3,700 other people. She’s rooming with one of them in a 180-square foot room in the ship’s interior.

At least 20 passengers who were on the cruise liner — including two Canadians — have tested positive for coronavirus infection. They have all been taken off the ship for medical care.

The 290-metre, 19-storey high ship is currently floating in Yokohama Bay, near Tokyo.

One of Chan’s travelling companions, Gloria Ho, said she feels fortunate to be with her husband in a cabin with a balcony.

“We can at least know if it’s day or nighttime right now,” Ho told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning in an interview Thursday.

“I’ve seen interior rooms with a family of four. Such a small space, with four people and 14 days of not going anywhere? I don’t know how long people can last,” she said.

The view from Gloria Ho’s balony on the Diamond Princess cruise ship when Japanese health officials were screening passengers for coronavirus infection. (Submitted by Gloria Ho)

 

Ho questioned whether the cruise line, Princess Cruises, could have notified passengers earlier that a person who had been onboard tested positive for coronavirus infection.

That was a man who disembarked the ship in Hong Kong on January 25. He later went to hospital, and health authorities there publicly confirmed the case on February 1.

Ho said she read about the man’s case in a Chinese newspaper on the day it was announced. She and Chan said they then went to the ship’s reception centre and asked staff if there was any need for concern, but the crew members they spoke with said they weren’t aware of the situation.

Life on the ship continued as usual, Chan said.

Then, on February 3, passengers were told that they would not be disembarking at the pier and that Japanese health authorities would be be coming aboard to screen everyone.

“We were a little bit upset,” Chan said. “We kind of knew something was happening, so we asked the cruise ship and they didn’t disclose anything.”

“If they had told us in advance, people probably would have been more cautious,” she added.

(Submitted by Gloria Ho)

Ho said she feels similarly.

“I think they should have let us know earlier.”

CBC Toronto has reached out to Princes Cruises, which owns and operates the Diamond Princess, for comment.

Passengers are getting three meals a day and bottled water was delivered to rooms earlier today, Ho said.

Trudy Clement, who is also stuck on the ship, told CBC News Network that everyone who delivers food to the room is wearing a mask, gown and gloves.

“You just feel like a little bit alien, with that,” she told host Heather Hiscox in a Skype interview.

People quarantined in their rooms have been told they’ll get a chance to stretch their legs tomorrow, provided they are wearing masks.

Clement said she thinks the captain has been good about letting everyone know what’s going on, and people were recently given a requisition form to ask for additional prescription medication if needed.

She said it’s not yet clear what will happen to the people on board at the end of the 14-day quarantine — particularly if other people on the ship become sick within that period.

Clement said her son has contacted the Canadian Embassy in Japan to try and get a sense of what is going on at their end.

CBC

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