To date, 175 of over 3,700 people aboard the ship have tested positive for the virus and sent to local hospitals while the others are quarantined onboard.
Note: This is a developing story. This version of the story is based on updates as of 7.36 pm Pacific Time, Feb 12th.
Passengers and crew members on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship currently quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, are painfully aware of every passing minute. A dream 14-day vacation to Southeast Asia quickly took a turn for the worst when an 80-year-old passenger who disembarked last month tested positive for coronavirus—the epidemic that has had the entire world on high alert for weeks. To date, 175 of over 3,700 people aboard the ship have tested positive for the virus and sent to local hospitals, reports CNN. The remaining passengers and crew have been forced to stay on the vessel since February 4 and will have to do so until the quarantine ends on February 19.
Faced with two weeks of monotony, several of those onboard have turned to the internet to keep their spirits up, forming online communities to share information and support each other through the isolation. On its part, Princess Cruises—the company that owns the Diamond Princess—is doing its best to keep as comfortable and engaged as possible, upgrading the internet to wider bandwidth and increasing entertainment offerings on the ship's TVs. Tweets from many of those quarantined on the ship praise the cruise line and crew members for working around the clock to make sure passengers are given the best service even in the current unfortunate circumstances.
A different note on my door tonight. Today I was reminded how tirelessly the crew are working on this ship. They are all working so hard, long hours and dealing with perturbed guests!! Thank you to all the crew!! #diamondprincess #Quarantine #gratitude pic.twitter.com/SpqysBS2ai— Clare Hedger (@clarehedger) February 10, 2020
According to NPR, having most of its guests trapped in their rooms except for brief turns on the deck, Princess Cruises has also set up an official hashtag #HangInThereDiamondPrincess — encouraging passengers to share their experiences onboard. Kudos to the magnificent pastry chefs on board the Diamond Princess. Delicious desserts twice a day chases the quarantine blues away, American author Gay Courter wrote in a recent tweet.
Yes, we are on THAT quarantined ship. But we are keeping calm and positive. We are safe. We are together. We are relatively comfortable with all the amenities we need. Food. Water. Internet. Power. #diamondprincesscruise #quarantine https://t.co/HdQxCsPGhU pic.twitter.com/3nWFJPN4YL— Aun Na Tan (@qtiepie) February 5, 2020
This is my cabin door on the #DiamondPrincess . No one has crossed the threshold, either way, since Sunday evening, more than 2 days before the quarantine began. #NoneShallPass. (Credit to MP&THG) pic.twitter.com/lg8DDWOkjg— Matthew Smith (@mjswhitebread) February 8, 2020
Yes, 66 new cases have been id'ed on board, and I do feel bad for those people, but because life goes on . . . here was lunch: tater salad, three bean something, and pork adobo. And Coke! No complaints here. pic.twitter.com/YgGdmwLkKy— Matthew Smith (@mjswhitebread) February 10, 2020
Alcohol is running low. We’ve (collectively) ransacked the inventory. This may be the last whiskey drink until I get off this ship. #DiamondPrincess #diamondprincesscruise #johnniewalker pic.twitter.com/mbyg3U0OAp— Shannon (@shannonvo) February 10, 2020
Lolzzz. Been following the #DiamondPrincess for a few days and have felt so bad and worried for all passengers and crew. But this video just made me laugh. I guess thats live TV for you.. you never quite know whats going to happen! #HanginthereDiamondPrincess https://t.co/HbNS2ASa6H— Emma Friddin (@EmmaFriddin) February 12, 2020
One of the most popular in-house TV offerings has been magician Sunny Chen's Magic of the Day show. The native of Taiwan who is among those quarantined has been praised by many of his fellow passengers for helping keep their spirits up even in current circumstances. "Thanks, @sunnychenmagic for putting effort to show us amazing magic, my son loves him," passenger Yardley Wong tweeted, later adding, "Sunny is soo good. My son copied his card magic all night long."
#day8 #coronavirus #CoronavirusOutbreak #quarantined on #DiamondPrincess thanks @sunnychenmagic for putting effort to show us amazing magic, my son loves him, when he saw his tired face, he wants to make him smile. #HanginthereDiamondPrincess pic.twitter.com/XMFeJ9nkwI— Yardley Wong (@yardley_wong) February 12, 2020
Acknowledging the positive feedback to his show in a recent Facebook post, Chen said, "Received a lot of encouragement and support!! My original intention was to bring joy to all viewers. Now as a victim of the virus crisis, I am really moved as I feel the strength you are delivering to me. Passengers onboard are also cheering each other on! We have to help each other to get through this challenge together!" Passengers also got to watch the Oscars live in their rooms with the cruise line providing ballots to guests to vote on each category.
Day 6 #Quarantine - breakfast is served. So much food, and Yakult!— Aun Na Tan (@qtiepie) February 10, 2020
The oscars are on our in room. It’s been many yrs since we’ve had a chance to watch it live - we never have time to watch the live or replay. Now we have plenty of time 🤣#diamondprincesscruise #oscars2020 pic.twitter.com/bWGjDGDwrZ
Earlier this week, the Princess Cruises assured passengers that they will be refunded the full cruise fare, including "air travel, hotel, ground transportation, pre-paid shore excursions, gratuities, and other items. In addition, guests will not be charged for any onboard incidental charges during the additional time onboard." However, it's not all fun and games onboard the Diamond Princess as by day 7 and 8 of the quarantine it became hard for some to stay positive.
Day 8: I am feeling a bit of hypochondria. Is my thraot getting scratchier? Is it the dry air? Am I showing first symptoms of virus? Allergies? Another cold? Is it in my head? Checked my temperature at least five times today. Drinking warm water now. #quarantine #diamondprincess— quarantinedondiamondprincess (@quarantinedond1) February 12, 2020
Moreover, many have raised concerns about the crew members who remain at work, tirelessly providing for and interacting with potentially infected passengers. Speaking to CNN, Japan's Vice Minister of Health Gaku Hashimoto said, "We are trying to treat all the people equally. We also know that crew members don't have private rooms like the passengers have, and they still have to work and help on the ship, so it is not all equal. However, we are giving everyone on the ship guidelines for prevention."
Passengers aboard the Diamond Princess are isolated in their cabins. But the crew that serves them is living and eating elbow to elbow, raising fears that a quarantine meant to halt the coronavirus’s spread on board is endangering the health of the crew. https://t.co/JjkiMxr7DT— Motoko Rich (@motokorich) February 10, 2020
Eric Rubin, professor of immunology at Harvard University, pointed out that keeping everyone on board is potentially endangering the crew. "I think a lot of thought went into what to do with the passengers, but it puts the crew at increased risk. It's a closed environment, a ship. It's the perfect place for an infectious disease to spread," he said. However, in a video statement on Wednesday, Princess Cruises Executive Vice President Rai Caluori said that "the quarantine protocols on board the Diamond Princess are completely under the control of the Japanese Ministry of Health." Caluori added that the more than 1,000 crew currently working onboard the ship will receive "normal pay and gratuities and paid time off following the quarantine."
Our global team is working tirelessly to continue supporting #DiamondPrincess guests and crew during this challenging time. As onboard needs continue to evolve, here’s an update on our current priorities. We will continue to provide updates as available: https://t.co/UBg4pIrrYI pic.twitter.com/IBSvpay7lD— Princess Cruises (@PrincessCruises) February 9, 2020