They were promised to have a blast at karaoke, learn tai chi, or study the Bible. But the cruise has turned into a nightmare for the thousands of passengers on the liner Diamond Princess, quarantined in Japan after the discovery of dozens of cases of coronavirus.
After fourteen days of promising travel, the dream ended on February 3 when an 80-year-old passenger, who disembarked from the ship in Hong Kong a few days earlier, was found positive.
Since then, some 3,700 people, passengers and crew members, from dozens of different nationalities, have been confined on board, off Yokohama near Tokyo. Quarantine period: at least fourteen days, the incubation time of the disease.
And anxiety is mounting on the ship which now has 61 declared cases of coronavirus, the viral epidemic which has already killed more than 630 people mainly in mainland China.
On Twitter, a passenger reported hearing “a persistent cough” in the next cabin, fearing to be infected in turn.
“The more cases they diagnose on board, the more likely they are to find a reason to extend the quarantine. It’s a bit discouraging, ”said Matt Smith, a 57-year-old American on board with his wife.
The sick, Japanese, Americans, Australians, New Zealanders and even Taiwanese, were landed and hospitalized in different cities of the Japanese archipelago.
For the moment 273 people have been tested, but additional examinations will be carried out on the most vulnerable passengers or those who have been in contact with the last infected travelers.
“SOS … Corona Beer”
In the meantime, boredom sets in among cruise passengers, trapped between four walls. The only distraction, when the flight attendants, wearing a mask and a protective suit, place meal trays in front of their door.
“I decided to make a little joke to the crew members who deliver the food to us. I waited for them with seaweed on their faces (…) that didn’t make them laugh, ”a Japanese passenger posted on Twitter.
People living in windowless cabins, without natural light, have been authorized to walk on the bridges in small groups to get some fresh air, but under strict conditions, in particular the wearing of a mask.
It is also necessary that “you avoid forming large groups and that you maintain between you a distance of at least a meter when you are talking,” demanded the captain of the boat Friday in an announcement broadcast on the ship.
“It’s so nice to breathe fresh air,” “I’m so excited,” posted Yardley Wong, from Hong Kong with her 6-year-old son, posting a video of several people dancing from social media. joy on deck.
To occupy passengers, additional television channels have been installed. A webcam sex site has even gone so far as to offer its content for free access on board …
Other crosierists joked to pass the time. “SOS, I need a Corona beer,” hung a passenger in his porthole, while David Abel, coming from Great Britain, implored the captain to come and give him a glass of whiskey. “Talisker, a 10 year old single malt, without ice, without water”.