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What is it like on Japan's quarantined cruise ship?

William Yang
February 10, 2020

The Diamond Princess cruise ship has been quarantined in Japan's Yokohama harbor for a week, and the number of coronavirus cases on board has risen. DW spoke to a woman stuck on the ship.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship sitting in Yokohama harbor
Image: picture-alliance/Xinhua/Du Xiaoyi

On Monday, Japanese health authorities reported more than 60 new coronavirus cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been quarantined in the Port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, since last week. 

The new cases bring the total number of coronavirus infections on board to more than 130. On Monday, Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the government was considering testing all 3,711 passengers and crew aboard the cruise ship. 

This would require them to remain on the ship until test results become available. Authorities are already scrambling to deliver medicine requested by more than 600 passengers. The ship is expected to remain under quarantine until February 19. 

DW was able to speak with a passenger on board the Diamond Princess about what life under quarantine has been like. 

DW: What is the situation right now on board the Diamond Princess?

Cheryl Molesky: We are confined to our rooms. We are only permitted to leave for 90 minutes every day to go to the outdoor area. But we have mostly chosen to stay in our room. Meals are delivered to our room at a specific time every day.

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How would you describe the atmosphere on the ship?

I think people are anxious. Our neighbors across the hall were saying in the beginning that they were hungry because the meals weren't coming on time. The man next to us has diabetes, so he is worried about his medications. Other people have tried to keep their spirits up.

People have been advised to leave their cabins in an orderly manner and keep a 2-meter (6.5-foot) distance between other people. We have to wear masks and gloves. When it's time to leave the cabin, the captain has to repeat the protocols.

What were passengers told after the outbreak?

We arrived in Yokohama earlier than originally planned, and at that point they told us that we would get through customs faster. We didn't get much information, except that one man had been sick and got off in Hong Kong.

We were then inspected by Japanese authorities, and it turns out that is why we arrived earlier in Yokohama: so they could inspect us.

The Japanese inspector gave us questionnaires to fill out and they also interviewed every passenger and measured their temperatures.

Did officials provide passengers with medical supplies such as masks and disinfectants?

They gave us rubber gloves, regular basic masks, medical-grade masks and a thermometer. We also got wipes and detergent. Since the quarantine has started, it feels confined, but we have a balcony in our room and a little more space for exercise. But people in the interior rooms have no daylight, and no space to stretch or exercise.

It hasn't been too hard for us, but we are worried about getting medicine and whether we will get sick. However, the captain makes multiple announcements every day, and we feel like they've been very upfront about the latest developments.

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What do you think about the coronavirus outbreak?

You would have to be crazy not to take some precautions and be careful about the coronavirus outbreak. However, I also think you can't live your life in fear.

I must say this experience has been more comfortable than it could have been, because we've been receiving a lot of support and help from the Japanese government, as well as the cruise operators.

We were supposed to go on vacation across Japan. But now we don't know if we will be able to after the quarantine is over, or if we need to go home right away. We just don't know what's going to happen for the nine days that we have left.