Just weeks after coronavirus first appeared in the area around Wuhan, China, more than 42,600 cases have been identified in China alone. The spread of coronavirus outside Asia has been minimal, but for passengers aboard a quarantined cruise ship off the coast of Japan, the risk of infection seems to be a near-constant threat.
While most cruise ships have printed emergency directions for most issues, a virus can be uncharted territory. A man from Hong Kong who had spent five days aboard the ship was diagnosed with coronavirus on February 1, although he hadn’t shown symptoms of illness while onboard. This lead to a two-week quarantine being imposed on the entire ship on February 5, which is scheduled to end on February 19, barring any unforeseen occurrences.
However, as the more people became infected with the virus, some are questioning the effectiveness — and even the ethicality — of this strategy.
For the ship’s crew members, conditions are even less favorable. Instead of being housed protectively inside individual rooms, crew members are forced to share single rooms with as many as three other people. Of course, handling emergency conditions like these are always a struggle and that’s why large-scale organizations have plans for events like earthquakes and hurricanes. Regardless, the lack of planning on part of Diamond Princess has left crew members and passengers at their wit’s end.
According to a California resident aboard the ship, being stuck under quarantine at sea has felt similar to being trapped in your bathroom.
Worse yet, while the passengers still have their basic needs met while onboard, crew members still have to do their jobs, which involve providing passengers with clean linens and medicine, and delivering and cleaning up after meals. Even if the crew maintains healthy practices aboard the ship, like washing their hands and brushing their teeth, this still puts the ship’s crew at considerable risk of contracting coronavirus.
Amid the tension aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, guests and crew members alike have begged their respective countries’ governments to rescue them from the ship. Since the first case of coronavirus was identified on the ship, the total number of people infected has grown to 175 at last count. That’s more than the total number of people sick with coronavirus in any country in the world outside China at this time.
Princess Cruises Responds to Backlash
Amid concerns for crew and passenger safety on the Diamond Princess, some have started to criticize Carnival’s Princess Cruises for the strain placed on their overworked, under-protected crew during the quarantine. The crew of over 1,000 Carnival Cruise Lines employees has had to take care of more than 2,600 passengers, and at least 10 of those infected with coronavirus have been crew members.
In the face of increasing scrutiny over their treatment of the crew members, Princess Cruises has promised to give all crew members aboard the quarantined ship two full months of paid vacation after the incident is over.
For the passengers on board the Diamond Princess during the quarantine, Princess Cruises has promised a second cruise for free, as well as a full refund for the current cruise and all expenses incurred by it.
Carnival Cruise Lines believes that the incident caused by the coronavirus epidemic could result in financial losses. In fact, they expect this year’s earnings to be lowered by 65 cents per share if the company is forced to suspend operations in Asia throughout April.
If you’re concerned about coronavirus, remember to follow the same safety precautions you normally would during the flu season. You should always visit your doctor at least once each year for a checkup, but if you feel sick you should set an appointment again just in case.
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