A Canadian-American couple who have been locked down aboard a cruise ship in Japan for six days says they are taking things “day by day” until the 14-day mandatory quarantine period is up and they can return to their normal lives.
“Today’s an OK day,” Karey Maniscalco told Global News in an interview via Skype on Sunday evening. “Yesterday, I woke and I just started crying because I realized that I’m still here and that I still have 10 days before I can go home. So I think it’s going to be a day-by-day thing, but today’s not so bad.”
Maniscalco and her husband Roger — who is originally from B.C. — are among 3,700 people who have been quarantined aboard Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama, Japan after a number of passengers tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week.
As of Monday, the virus had infected more than 40,600 people globally and killed more than 900.
According to Maniscalco, she and Roger were eating dinner aboard the cruise on Feb. 3 when the captain announced that a passenger — who has since disembarked in Hong Kong — had tested positive for the virus.
“The room pretty much fell silent at that point,” Maniscalco said. “And immediately, my husband and I decided that dinner was over, and we went back to our rooms just to not take any chances.”
She said later that day, Japanese health officials came to their room to conduct a medical assessment, which they both passed.
The next day, though, the captain informed passengers that everyone would be confined to their cabin and that the ship would be under a mandatory, 14-day quarantine.
Roger said a silence fell through the whole ship as the announcement was made.
Now, days into the quarantine period, the couple says they are struggling to get up-to-date information.
“We were trying to reach out and find out more information because the cruise line was only giving us what they knew at the time, and the information was a little delayed compared to what we would find out through the media,” he said.
Roger said they have reached out to the U.S. Embassy for information and assistance and that they have been trying to stay in contact with friends and family.
Ultimately, though, the pair are “trying to keep busy” until the quarantine period ends.
The couple said their main concern now is making sure they can leave as soon as the 14-day lockdown is over.
“Knowing that we are going to be home on the 19th and no later than the 19th is probably the biggest concern we have,” Maniscalco said. “We have businesses to run, we have children at home — they’re adult children, but nonetheless,” Maniscalco said.
But, Roger said, they understand why the quarantine is necessary and are prepared to “wait it out.”
“We understand why we have to do this, to be safe for the Japanese government and for us to disembark and not get anyone else sick; we understand all that. There’s no question,” he said.
According to Roger, things have improved on board over the last several days.
“I think the cruise is really trying to listen to us, and it’s gotten better and better on the cruise ship,” he said. “So they’re doing their part.”
But early Monday morning, just hours after the interview, Princess Cruises announced an additional 66 people had tested positive for the virus aboard the Diamond Princess, bringing the total number of cases to 130.
The company said in a news release that the positive test results were confirmed by the Japanese Ministry of Health and that it was following the ministry’s “disembarkment protocols to provide medical care for these new cases.”
Among the newly identified cases is one Canadian. The new patient will join the seven other Canadians who were previously taken to Japanese hospitals for treatment and monitoring.
Meanwhile, around the globe, health officials have been scrambling to contain the virus and quell growing panic.
In Canada, seven cases have been confirmed — four in British Colombia and three in Ontario.
Other cruises impacted
The Diamond Princess is not the only cruise ship that has been affected over new coronavirus fears.
Royal Carribean Cruises announced last week that it would be banning all passengers with Chinese, Macau or Hong Kong passports from boarding its vessels.
On Wednesday, Taiwan’s health authority banned all international cruise ships from docking over the threat of the novel coronavirus.
Late last week, the Japanese government didn’t allow another cruise ship, Holland America Line’s Westerdam, to dock, even though no cases of the virus had been reported on board.
And over the weekend, two cruise ships — the Superstar Aquarius and the Dream World — allowed 1,700 and 1,800 people, respectively, to disembark after each was quarantined temporarily over new coronavirus fears.
Another cruise, the Anthem of the Seas, was set to finally depart on its voyage on Monday after a novel coronavirus scare kept it docked for two days.
— With files from the Canadian Press and the Associated PressView link »