A British cruise ship passenger stuck on board a quarantined ‘floating prison’ in Japan has today voiced fears over how his thousands of shipmates will cope with a two-week lockdown.
David Abel and his 2,655 fellow passengers have been ordered to stay in their cabins aboard the Diamond Princess after ten passengers tested positive for coronavirus.
Passengers are facing another 13 days stuck at sea to prevent the virus from spreading, and the Briton today described how luxury dinners had been replaced with rationed food delivered by staff in face masks.
Mr Abel has been sharing updates with the world’s media from his ninth-deck cabin – but said he would most like to be interviewed by Holly Willoughby.
Other passengers have shared pictures of their food including bread rolls with cheese and meat, plates of chicken with rice, and a chocolate dessert – while one cabin had a sign on its door with a request for English Breakfast teabags.
The ten people – two Australians, one American, three guests from Hong Kong, two from Japan and one Filipino crew member – were taken ashore by the Japanese coast guard and sent to nearby hospitals today.
More than 200 others were anxiously awaiting their test results after they were selected for extra screening and medics in hazmat suits went deck-to-deck to test for the killer virus.
The vessel has today left Yokohama Bay, where it was anchored yesterday, and returned to the open sea to collect seawater – which can be converted for use in showers and drinking water.
A patient who confirmed positive for new coronavirus is transferred from cruise ship Diamond Princess for treatment on the mainland in Japan today
Medical workers in protective suits lead a passenger who tested positive for a new coronavirus from the cruise ship Diamond Princess at Yokohama Port today
Cruise ship Diamond Princess is off the shore of Yokohama today where passengers are facing a two-week virus lockdown
Other passengers have shared pictures of their food, including bread rolls with cheese and meat and plates of chicken with rice, as staff in face masks delivered supplies on board the ship
Passengers were given rations including yoghurt, fruit and bread as well as juice and hot drinks for breakfast this morning
One cabin aboard the Diamond Princess had a note posted on the door with a request for English Breakfast teabags
Health workers in protective gear carry suitcases from the Diamond Princess where ten passengers have tested positive for coronavirus and thousands of others are bracing for a two-week lockdown
Cruise ship Diamond Princess is anchored off the shore of Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Wednesday after ten tested positive for coronavirus
Officers in protective gears carry luggage cases after people who were transferred from cruise ship Diamond Princess, arrive at a maritime police’s base in Yokohama
Cruise ship in Hong Kong is latest to be quarantined
More than 1,800 people are being tested for coronavirus on a cruise ship in Hong Kong today after some crew members reported fever.
The World Dream docked in Hong Kong after three former passengers were found to have had the virus.
The ship was denied entry to the Taiwan port of Kaohsiung on Tuesday and is now being held in quarantine while everyone on board is tested.
Pictures showed one man being moved off the ship and transferred to an ambulance by health workers in blue protective suits.
A man is transferred to an ambulance in Hong Kong today after he was taken off the World Dream cruise liner
Three people from mainland China who had been on board the World Dream from January 19-24 were found to have had the virus, Hong Kong’s health department said.
Most of the remaining passengers are from Hong Kong.
The cruise operator, Dream Cruises, said the three ‘confirmed’ patients had left the ship in the mainland city of Ghangzhou on January 24.
‘For the time being, we cannot conclude the likely time of finishing the quarantine measures,’ said Leung Yiu-hong, an official at the city’s department of health.
Hong Kong has confirmed 18 coronavirus cases, including at least four that were transmitted locally, and saw its first death yesterday.
Health workers have been on strike this week to demand that the border with mainland China be completely sealed.
The city’s chief executive Carrie Lam has resisted pressure to seal the border completely but said today all arrivals from mainland China will face a mandatory two-week quarantine.
The outbreak has rekindled memories of the 2003 SARS crisis, another virus which began in China and killed nearly 300 people in Hong Kong.
The health scare comes after months of violent anti-government protests in Hong Kong sparked by fears that its autonomy was being eroded by Beijing.
Some pro-democracy protesters have come out in support of the hospital strike, with some demonstrations beginning to resemble the pro-democracy protests.
Japan placed the ship in quarantine after an 80-year-old man who left the ship in Hong Kong last month tested positive for the virus, which has killed more than 400 people in China.
All 3,711 passengers and crew were screened for the virus and 273 of them subjected to further tests, Japan’s health minister Katsunobu Kato said.
They were selected because they had shown symptoms such as fever, had left the ship in Hong Kong or had had close contact with the 80-year-old patient.
Of the 31 results received so far, ten people have tested positive. That leaves 242 people still waiting for results, as of this morning.
Health minister Kato said he assumed the quarantine would last around 14 days – the estimated maximum incubation period for the virus.
‘It’s going to give me some free time. I think it’s going to be a really good trial, a challenge for everyone on board,’ said British passenger Mr Abel, who is travelling with his wife Sally.
‘How do we cope with it? What are we going to do? How is our mental outlook going to be?
‘It’s just an extended two-week cruise, but it’s not going to be a luxury cruise, it’s going to be like a floating prison.
‘But we’ve got the free time to mind do whatever it wants. It can either be creative and thinking positive things, or we can be dragging ourselves down into the gutter. I certainly won’t be doing that.’
Mr Abel, a diabetic, had earlier voiced the fear that he would fall into a coma if he did not get enough food, but later described himself as a ‘happy bunny’ after supplies were brought to the ship.
Crew members wearing face masks have gone cabin-to-cabin to deliver food with a strict quarantine now in place.
‘All the passengers on board this ship, we remain confined to our cabins. We can’t even walk down the corridor,’ said Mr Abel.
‘For many passengers it’s going to be absolute boredom. We are quite fortunate that we’ve got a cabin with a balcony. The people I feel really sorry for are those with inside cabins who’ve got no natural light, no fresh air.’
Smoking has been totally banned on board, even for passengers with a balcony, he said.
‘We are definitely no longer on a luxury cruise, where we had the superb benefit of eating from a dining room and a choice from the menu – those days are over,’ he said.
‘I am so grateful that the ship are taking care of us, it’s just such a contrast to the first few weeks of a cruise on the Diamond Princess.
‘For the first time ever we’ve seen the crew wearing face masks, they haven’t been wearing them until serving breakfast and lunch today.
‘They knock on the door, they hand over the tray of food and when they are ready to collect the trays they come and knock on the door. It’s very brief.
‘It has changed beyond recognition but this is not the fault of Princess cruise line, they are complying with the Japanese health authority.’
People are transferred from cruise ship Diamond Princess to a patrol ship on Wednesday, after ten people on board the cruise have tested positive for coronavirus, in Yokohama, Japan
Health workers in protective suits put up hoardings today as passengers who were diagnosed with the virus are moved
Workers in protective gear are seen at the Japan Coast Guard base in Yokohama on Wednesday bringing patients from the cruise ship
David Abel (pictured) and his 2,655 fellow passengers have been ordered to stay in their cabins aboard the Diamond Princess in a lockdown which is likely to last another 13 days
Health Minister Kato said that officials would continue to monitor the remaining passengers and crew for the potential development of symptoms, suggesting that more test samples could be taken.
None of the 10 infected people, three of whom are Japanese nationals, had severe symptoms, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Another passenger, a Japanese man in his 70s, told public broadcaster NHK that the drastic new quarantine measures had been imposed today after ten people tested positive.
‘Until yesterday, we were able to spend time in common spaces and do things like play ping-pong. But from this morning, we have not been allowed to go out of our rooms,’ said the man.
‘I tried to go to a restaurant this morning for breakfast but I was told: Please eat in your room. So I have been waiting for room service. But it hasn’t arrived yet.’
Pictures on board the Diamond Princess showed masked health workers in blue plastic gowns walking down as well as views of deserted lounges and a barren deck.
Cruise operator Princess Cruises said the next two trips which were due to depart Yokohama on February 4 and February 12 had been cancelled.
A spokesman said food and other supplies would be brought on board from other ships when the vessel returns to Yokohama.
‘The ship plans to go out to sea to perform normal marine operations including, but not limited to, the production of fresh water and ballast operations before proceeding alongside in Yokohama where food, provisions, and other supplies will be brought onboard,’ the spokesman said.
‘Guests will continue to be provided complimentary internet and telephone to use in order to stay in contact with their family and loved ones, and the ship’s crew is working to keep all guests comfortable.
‘Princess Cruises will continue to fully cooperate with and follow the instructions of global medical authorities and the Japanese government.’
A small coast guard vessel leaves the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama today amid an ongoing virus lockdown
An ambulance departs the Japan Coast Guard base in Yokohama after bringing virus patients from the Diamond Princess
Ambulance workers in protective gears drive an ambulance which is believed to carry a person who was transferred from Cruise ship
The new cases bring the total number of confirmed cases to 33 in Japan. The epidemic, which originated in China’s Hubei province, has killed hundreds of people and infected more than 10,000 so far.
Speaking yesterday, passenger Mr Abel claimed that some of his fellow passengers ‘don’t give a damn about personal health’ and had increased the risk of infection with poor hygiene.
In one case, an American tourist had blown his nose on a napkin and left it on a dinner table where waiters carrying food were likely to touch it, he said.
It is not yet known exactly how the virus spreads.
‘Nobody is able to book onward flights as we have no idea when the quarantine will clear,’ said Mr Abel, who is travelling with his wife ahead of their 50th wedding anniversary and described himself as a ‘captive’ on the ship.
‘The whole ship is in quarantine, we are in the middle of the bay, anchored, so nobody can get on or off this ship.’
Health workers in protective gear wait for Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers to be transferred to the mainland
The sun rises over the Diamond Princess on Wednesday anchored off the Yokohama Port, south of Tokyo, after a Hong Kong passenger who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus
Cruise ship Diamond Princess is seen anchored off the Yokohama Port on Tuesday, after a Hong Kong passenger who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus
Describing the medical tests, Mr Abel said: ‘We’ve had the medical guys come into our stateroom and it’s taken all night, from midnight to 10am, for them to do four of the decks and there are 14 in total.
‘They came in, took our temperature, asked three questions – have we got a cough, have we got a fever, do we take medication to lower temperature.’
Despite the large number of people on the ship, photos from inside show usually-bustling communal areas are all but deserted as those on board are confined to their cabin rooms to prevent any possible spread of the virus.
The only people in sight are personnel going from room-to-room to test the passengers for the virus, or to clean the ship’s public areas.
One image shows a deserted cinema room on the huge liner, called the Diamond Princess, with no one in sight. Another shows the ship’s huge casino standing empty.
Corridors and a huge atrium are left empty save for medical officials wandering around in protective masks.
The usually-lively reception area on board the Diamond Princess is now empty and unmanned.
An empty casino on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been quarantined in Japan
The once-lively reception area on board the Diamond Princess stands empty and unmanned
Medical personnel are pictured going room-by-room as they check up on the passengers. According to a statement from Japan’s health ministry, the guests’ temperatures and overall conditions are being monitored
One image shows a deserted cinema room on the huge liner, called the Diamond Princess, with no one in sight. Screening began on Tuesday for some 3,700 passengers and crew aboard the cruise liner after a Hong Kong passenger who sailed on the vessel last month tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.
Despite the large number of people on the ship, photos from inside show usually-bustling communal areas are all but deserted as those on board are confined to their cabin rooms to prevent any possible spread of the virus
Images show corridors and a huge atrium left empty save for medical officials wandering around in protective masks
A man in protective clothing walks on the sixth deck of the Diamond Princess today where quarantine specialists are carrying out tests
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the ship had already been quarantined on Saturday at the port of Naha, but the 80-year-old man’s diagnosis forced further checks.
In addition, any passengers who got off in Hong Kong or had close contact with the infected man will be subject to tests for coronavirus.
The 80-year-old patient ‘did not visit a medical centre inside the ship while he was sailing with us’, according to cruise operator Carnival Japan.
‘According to the hospital where he is staying, his condition is stable and infection was not found among his family members who sailed with him,’ they said.
Medics today went deck-to-deck through the Diamond Princess to test for the virus
Japan has already barred foreign nationals who have been to Hubei, the Chinese province at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.
People with passports issued in Hubei are also banned from Japan in a bid to contain the crisis.
Visitors who display symptoms of the new virus when they arrive in Japan can also be denied entry.
A total of 11 foreigners have been barred from entering so far, the immigration service agency said today. Japan has also flown more than 500 citizens out of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated.
The disease is believed to have emerged in a market in Wuhan that sold wild animals, spreading rapidly as people travelled for the Lunar New Year holiday in late January.
The virus has so far spread to more than 20 countries, prompting the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency.
In addition, Hong Kong yesterday announced that a 39-year-old coronavirus patient had died in hospital – only the second fatality outside mainland China.
Medical personnel pictured on the eighth deck of the cruise ship as they carry out tests on the passengers on board, who have been instructed to remain in their rooms
A TV crew films the cruise ship Diamond Princess off the port of Yokohama today as health officials carry out medical checks