YOKOHAMA, Japan (NEWS 1130) – A B.C. couple is among the 3,700 people stuck on a cruise ship that’s been locked down in Japan, after several people on board tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.
The husband and wife’s daughter, who has asked to only be referred to as Jennifer for fear of retribution, said her parents are in good spirits despite being locked in their rooms for the next two weeks.
She told NEWS 1130 the cruise left Yokohama on Jan. 20 before making stops in Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Okinawa, Japan, and was set to return to its point of departure on Tuesday.
According to Jennifer’s parents, passengers and crew members started to receive preliminary testing for the virus after a man reported feeling ill at one of the stops.
“They ended up getting to port [in Yokohama] about 12 hours ahead of schedule because they wanted to start doing all of the medical checks,” she explained.
Her parents and the thousands of other people aboard the Diamond Princess have apparently been told to push their flights back home by at least 14 days — the minimum length of the quarantine Japan has imposed.
But even that isn’t for sure yet.
“According to my dad, because the quarantine is at least 14 days, they don’t even know whether they’ll be out after the 14 days,” Jennifer said. “They’ll be doing regular checks over the next couple weeks to see if other people are feeling symptoms, and it could even be extended from there.”
People are confined to their rooms on the ship for the time being, and supplies — including food — are being sent in.
“I don’t know if it’s just an act so that we don’t get worried, but they seem to be OK,” Jennifer said of her parents, adding she was told the ship is being disinfected.
While her parents are seemingly doing fine, Jennifer said the whole situation is distracting for her and her family members, to say the least.
“I’m at my computer a lot during the day for work, so I find myself googling a whole lot,” she said.
However, the concern is for her parents’ well being. Jennifer noted both her mom and dad are on medication, and they only brought so much with them for their trip. While she has been told a doctor is on board the ship to help in situations like these, it’s something that she thinks of.
Another point keeping Jennifer’s mind busy is the fact the family was supposed to celebrate a milestone next week.
“My mom’s 64, my dad turns 65 next week and we were supposed to have a birthday party for him, but now he’s going to be quarantined on the ship,” she explained, finding some humour in the situation, despite feeling a little sad.
She hopes her parents, who she said have not shown any symptoms of illness, will be let out of their room sooner rather than later.
Ten people aboard the Diamond Princess have since been taken off the ship after testing positive for the novel coronavirus. There are 251 Canadians aboard, but none of them have been infected so far.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday Canada has engaged with the Japanese government to see what support can be provided to those on the cruise ship.
“We’re trying to get more information about the situation right now, but we’re very much engaged,” he told reporters. “We want to reassure the families both on the cruise ship that we are alert and engaged in their issue and trying to work with families at home to reassure them as well.”
The new virus has killed more than 500 people, almost all in China, and infected thousands in that country as well as a dozen other nations.