Coronavirus: Guests onboard quarantined ship off Japan coast may return home after Feb 21, crew later

The families of the passengers onboard the luxury cruise liner Diamond Princess could be in for good news as the Japanese authorities have said that the guests may return home as early as February 21. While the passengers may start heading home from February 21, the crew, the authorities say, may have to wait even after the last guest has left the cruise liner.

From February 18, the Japanese government will be conducting new set of tests on the passengers and the crew onboard Diamond Princess. It will take at least three days after the tests to ascertain whether a person is infected with the coronavirus or not.

In a press statement, Jan Swartz, President Princess Cruises said, “So guests who are treated on Friday 18 and have negative test results may be able to disembark beginning February 21. Guests who might test positive would be transferred to a medical facility.”

This statement comes as a huge relief to the families of those who were waiting to hear from the authorities on the plans of the Japanese government for the stranded passengers and crew onboard the cruise liner.

The Japanese health ministry, however, doesn’t wish to take any chances. Hence, those who have had contact with the person tested positive will have to restart their isolation from the day their close contact ends.

The Japanese government feels that more than the crew on board, it is the guests who are more susceptible to the virus owing to the age and health profiles among other factors. Hence, the government says a different protocol was being followed for them.

The crew onboard, however, may have to bear it out a bit more.

It’s only after the guests onboard the cruise liner have left that the crew could be required to undergo a formal quarantine process. So, this means that even if the cruise liner is cleared operationally, the crew will take some more time to return home.

There are many stranded aboard the Diamond Princess.

Recently, a video of a Mumbai-based girl, Sonali Thakkar, who works as a security officer in the cruise liner went viral. In the video, Sonali Thakkar pleaded for help from the Indian authorities. Her parents, too, have requested help.

Talking to India Today TV, Sonali said she has not been able to contact the Indian embassy yet but, she added, her condition was better and that her isolation was likely to end on February 19.

The cruise liner has been docked off the Yokohama port since February 3 and around 220 people onboard have been in isolation since.

Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, quarantine or isolated wards have been started at all the district hospitals and government medical colleges in Maharashtra as a measure of preparedness to prevent the novel coronavirus.

As per DGCA guidelines, the airports are now screening passengers from Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand apart from China and Hong Kong.

Source – India Today