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Quarantined at sea: Inside the Japanese cruise ship locked down for coronavirus


On a giant cruise ship that measures 205 feet tall and spans nearly 1,000 feet long, being confined to a windowless cabin is not an ideal vacation.

The Diamond Princess is stuck in the port city of Yokohama, just outside Tokyo, while health workers monitor a coronavirus outbreak among passengers and crew.

So far, ten passengers have tested positive for the respiratory illness sweeping China — two Australians, three Japanese, three people from Hong Kong, one from the United States, and a Filipino crewmember. The patients were covered head-to-knee with large, white sheets and taken ashore on Coast Guard vessels on Wednesday where they were transported to local hospitals.

Tests were pending on at least 273 other passengers who had symptoms of the new virus or close contact with one of the passengers diagnosed.

The rest of those on board face a two-week quarantine while Japanese health officials work around the clock to monitor for new cases and suppress any further spread.

The quarantine will be “up to” 14 days, according to Health Minister Katsunobu Kato, as is in line with Japanese law, but could stretch longer.

For the 3,700 people stuck on the ship, there is little to do.

David Abel, 74, and his wife are in a cabin with windows and a balcony but acknowledged that not everyone is so lucky.

“I guess a lot of passengers will get bored, especially if they’re in an inside cabin… I feel for them very much,” Abel said in a Facebook video from his room.

“They don’t have natural light, no window to look out of, they don’t have fresh air, just circulated air conditioning. Here, we have a balcony and a slightly larger stateroom, that is an absolute blessing for us and I’m really grateful this is what I booked.”

From his balcony, he could see ships docking next to the cruise ship with fuel and supplies, preparing for the two-weeks of being idle on the ocean.

Food is already a huge draw for luxury cruisers. Now, it’s become the daily main event.


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