6 Hawaii residents on cruise ship quarantined
An Ewa Beach couple is among at least six Hawaii residents who have been quarantined to their rooms on a cruise ship in Japan after 10 people aboard tested positive for the coronavirus.
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Yokohama, Japan >> An Ewa Beach couple is among at least six Hawaii residents who have been quarantined to their rooms on a cruise ship in Japan after 10 people aboard tested positive for the coronavirus.
Those who tested positive were taken to hospitals, while all 3,700 crew and passengers on the ship will be quarantined on board for up to 14 days, Health Minister Nobukatsu Kato said. More tests are pending.
Deaths from the virus rose to 490 in China today while new cases on the Japanese cruise ship, in Hong Kong and in Thailand showed the increasing spread of the outbreak and renewed attention toward containing it. China now has 24,324 cases, while outside mainland China at least 180 cases have been confirmed. There have been two fatalities outside China, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.
Debbie Pagan, 58, and her husband Eric, 64, of Ewa Beach have been on about 40 cruises, and Tuesday morning was supposed to be the end of another one. Instead, they along with others on the ship will be stuck in their rooms aboard the Diamond Princess about a mile off Yokohama, Japan, for another 14 days.
During the quarantine they will be served meals in their rooms by masked employees.
“This morning was the first time we’ve seen them with masks, and we were like the villains, so I felt bad. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really happening,’” Debbie Pagan said Tuesday night from the cruise ship.
A man who tested positive for the virus was on the ship but left over a week ago. Monday night seemed normal, but it was the start of nearly 24 hours of testing for the virus. And at 6 a.m. today in Japan, the ship’s captain ordered everyone back to their rooms, and at 8 a.m. he announced that 10 people aboard had tested positive.
Now the open areas of the ship are empty, and Pagan said they have “no free run of our ship.”
“I think there are a lot people who are uncomfortable or frustrated, but we’re trying to not be those people,” she said.
Without access to the ship’s library, she downloaded a book, ready to settle in.
The 10 cases confirmed on the Japanese cruise ship raised that country’s total to 33 cases. They were among 273 people tested because they had a cough or fever, which are symptoms of the virus, or had close contact with a man who got off the ship in Hong Kong and was infected.
The transmission to each person isn’t clear, and the others may have gotten the virus when they got off the ship at other port calls in Vietnam, Taiwan, Kagoshima and Okinawa. The ship returned to Yokohama, near Tokyo, on Monday.
In Hong Kong, meanwhile, hospital workers are striking to demand the border with mainland China be shut completely to ward off the virus, but four new cases without known travel to the mainland indicate the illness is spreading locally in the territory.
The growing caseload “indicates significant risk of community transmission” and could portend a “large-scale” outbreak, said Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch at the Center for Health Protection.
Hospitals in Hong Kong said they had to cut some services due to striking workers’ absences. More than 7,000 joined the strike Tuesday, according to the Hospital Authority Employees’ Alliance, the strike organizer.
The territory’s beleaguered leader, Carrie Lam, criticized the strike and said the government was doing all it could to limit the flow of people across the border. Almost all land and sea links have been closed, but the striking workers want it shut completely.
The latest China figures showed an increase of 65 deaths from the previous day, all the new deaths from Wuhan. The number of new cases increased to 24,324, a rise of 3,887 from the previous day. Outside mainland China at least 180 cases have been confirmed, including two fatalities, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.
Thailand confirmed six more cases Tuesday, raising its total to 25. Two are motorcycle taxi drivers who had driven for Chinese tourists. Earlier a Thai taxi driver was also diagnosed with the virus. The cases are concerning because they suggest the virus can spread more easily between people than has been suspected.
Mark Ladao reported out of Honolulu. The Associated Press contributed to this report.