The Princess Diamond cruise ship has one passenger that never bought a ticket — the coronavirus sweeping across China and creeping around the globe.
As a result, 69 people on the ship have been infected with the virus, including at least 12 Americans, according to USA Today.
On Saturday, Princess Cruises had announced that 63 people, including nine Americans, were infected on the ship, which was off the coast of Yokahoma, Japan.
The Princess Diamond is under quarantine until Feb. 19.
The quarantine was imposed after it was learned that a passenger on the 3,700-person ship had gone ashore in Hong Kong last month and went to the hospital.
“While on the ship, he did not visit the ship’s medical center to report any symptoms or illness,” Princess Cruises said in a statement, according to Fox News. “The hospital reports that he is in stable condition and the family members traveling with him remain symptom-free.”
On the ship, passengers are desperate to get home.
“We are trying to somehow reach the State Department in hopes they will get us off here,” Vana Mendizabal, 69, of Crystal River, Florida, said, according to The Washington Post.
“We are confined to our cabins, we’re breathing recirculated air, and it’s not a healthy environment for us to be staying in,” said Mendizabal, who was on a cruise with her husband, Mario, 75.
“We just want to get off the ship,” she said.
In response, a State Department official said that “once the passengers on the Diamond Princess finish their 14-day quarantine period, they will be permitted to depart Japan on commercial flights, which are readily available, and will not be subject to additional quarantine upon return to the United States,” The Post reported.
Still, Mendizabal said being cooped up for two weeks was not easy. “It’s been very disruptive,” she said. “It’s very stressful.”
The trip turned sour for the passengers when, after arriving in port, the captain announced that the virus was on board.
“The whole room became silent — the whole dining room — because everybody was kind of shocked at the news,” passenger Karey Maniscalco said, according to NPR.
The next day, they were told of the quarantine.
“We were in shock. I started crying,” Maniscalco said.
On Sunday, China announced that the death toll from the virus in China had reached 811, overtaking the toll of the SARS epidemic in 2002-3003, which killed 774 people, according to The New York Times. China said 37,198 people have been infected.
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