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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Coronavirus on cruise ships

As we all know, norovirus is a constant worry on cruise ships, where it cannot be guaranteed, despite constant warnings, that everyone will wash their hands after going to the toilet, or before serving themselves at the buffet.  It must be a huge problem for the staff and medical centre.

But coronavirus is something else again.  Norovirus is a nasty, uncomfortable, undignified illness that keeps you trapped on the toilet, and confined to your cabin.  But as far as I know, it is not fatal.  So an even huger problem is the distinct possibility of coronavirus appearing in a crowded cruise ship.

And, unfortunately, it has happened on the Diamond Princess.  Here is the warning issued by the very caring and responsible company:

Confirmed cases of Coronavirus on Diamond Princess
Princess Cruises can confirm that the first phase of health screening of all guests and crew onboard Diamond Princess, by the Japanese Ministry of Health, has been completed. We were notified that amongst the samples that have completed testing, 10 people have tested positive for Coronavirus.
These 10 persons, who have been notified, will be taken ashore by Japanese Coast Guard watercraft and transported to local hospitals for care by shoreside Japanese medical professionals. It has been confirmed that the ship will remain under quarantine in Yokohama. The length of the quarantine will be at least 14 days as required by the Ministry of Health.
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.
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.
We will also be cancelling the next two Diamond Princess cruises departing Yokohama (Feb 4 and Feb 12) and will begin notifying guests today.
Princess Cruises confirms there are 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew currently onboard covering a range of nationalities. Approximately half the guests onboard are from Japan.
Cancellation of Diamond Princess – February 4 Cruise (Yokohama)
Princess Cruises thanks the Japan Ministry of Health for their thorough review of the health status of guests and crew aboard Diamond Princess. The cruise line has decided to cancel the next voyage of Diamond Princess to help facilitate the health screening and records review process.
Diamond Princess was due to depart Yokohama (February 4, 2020) for an eight day round trip cruise. However, the decision was made to cancel the cruise because of the time needed for the authorities to complete their comprehensive review.
All guests will receive a full refund. Each guest will also receive a one hundred percent future cruise credit.
While this decision will be disappointing for our guests, we feel they will understand the commitment to continue to work closely with the health authorities because we share a common goal of looking after the safety and well-being of our guests, crew and the places we visit.
Princess Cruises confirmed there are 2,666 guests currently onboard covering a range of nationalities. About half the guests are from Japan.
We will provide a further update once we have more information.

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