Vacation Turned Nightmare

Passengers on the Diamond Princess Remain in Quarantine for COVID-19 Coronavirus


Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The Diamond Princess currently has over 3,500 passengers in quarantine for COVID-19 coronavirus.

Janet Han, Section Editor

The cruise ship Diamond Princess, now with more patients of COVID-19 coronavirus than any location other than China, has now spent 26 days quarantined off the coast of Japan. 

As of Thursday, 218 of the 3,500+ passengers have tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus and transported to hospitals. Criticism for the decision to quarantine the passengers within the cruise ship in the first place is increasing daily, as the situation seems like a horrifying way for passengers to be infected.

“I think it’s been a bad decision from the start,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease specialist and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, in an interview with Live Science. The quarantine was “cruel and inhumane” and “created a horror show on the ocean.”

In fact, one of the 218 that tested positive was a Japanese quarantine officer that came aboard the ship to test the passengers for the virus. 

On Wednesday, Princess Cruises posted an update on their website about the situation, saying that “over the next several days, Japanese health officials are planning voluntary disembarkation of guests to complete their quarantine period at a shoreside facility.” This disembarkation will begin with “the most medically vulnerable guests,” particularly “older adults with pre-existing health conditions.”

Guests will be tested for the virus, then taken to the hospital if they test positive. If they test negative, they will be taken to a quarantine housing facility. 

The quarantine housing facility, according to the update, will have individual rooms and bathrooms. There will be no clinics, but prescription medicine will be available. Furthermore, the meals will be Japanese bento-style boxes, with no Western options. 

Guests can, however, choose to stay on board the Diamond Princess instead of going to the quarantine housing facility if they wish. 

Meanwhile, another major concern is the lack of safety protocols in place for the 1,000+ crew members. Many have been coming in close contact with passengers as they go from room to room serving meals, and others have been working as security guards. 

Most importantly, the crew members are not being separated from each other like the passengers are. 

Sonali Thakkah, a 24-year-old from Mumbai who is part of the security team on the cruise, shared her concerns with CNN. “We just want every crew member to be tested and separated from the rest of the people who are infected. Because we don’t know who is carrying the virus or how fast it is spreading,” she said.

Alice Ding (12) agrees that the treatment of the crew members “should be changed because it is putting them at risk.”

Hopefully, the concerning situation on Diamond Princess will soon be resolved, and both passengers and crew members will safely return home.