A White Rock couple is among Canadian passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been quarantined off of Japan’s coast due to the coronavirus.
Nigel Finch-Cole – onboard with his spouse Patrick Finch and four other Canadian travel companions, both family members and friends – has been posting information, updates and photos to his Facebook page regarding the unfolding situation since Feb. 4, when he shared that the ship was at anchor in Yokohama Bay under quarantine.
“Japanese officials visited each stateroom overnight to conduct tests on all passengers and crew and temperature checks,” Finch-Cole wrote. “We won’t know the results until (Feb. 5). Meanwhile, we sit and wait. All travel plans must be changed and the next cruise has been cancelled.”
The Princess Cruises ship – with 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew – was placed under quarantine Feb. 4, following a confirmed outbreak of the coronavirus, which was first reported in Wuhan, China in late December.
In his series of posts, Finch-Cole describes four days of being confined to staterooms; the distress as new cases are confirmed; ambulances arriving to take sick passengers away; being issued masks and gloves “to allow short time for fresh air on port side promenade deck… and told to stay 2 meters apart”; being provided a phone number to call for mental-health purposes; and, an appeal for help returning home.
“We request and require the Canadian/British Governments repatriate us to complete quarantine in Canada or the United Kingdom,” the British-born Finch-Cole wrote on Feb. 7.
He followed that post with one asking friends to also apply pressure by contacting the prime minister’s office or their MP.
The stateroom-confinement order was “very upsetting and worrying for us, our family and friends who are also aboard,” Finch-Cole wrote, of steps announced following confirmation of the first 10 cases onboard.
As of Monday, that number had grown to 66, with eight Canadians confirmed among those who tested positive.
In a news release, officials with Princess Cruises said the results were confirmed by the Japanese Ministry of Health and that it is following the ministry’s “disembarkation protocols to provide medical care for these new cases.”
The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global emergency on Jan. 30, after cases spiked more than tenfold in a week.
The quarantine period aboard the Diamond Princess is to continue until Feb. 19, barring “unforeseen developments,” according to a statement issued by the cruise line last week.
In the meantime, Finch-Cole is adding some humour – and reflection – to his social-media updates.
“If some kind soul would be kind enough to send us Canadians some lovely Tim Horton’s instant coffee, we would love you forever!” he wrote in his latest post, finishing with, “Take care, love one another, be kind and most of all, enjoy your freedom.”
– with files from Canadian Press