A Toronto couple, quarantined on a docked cruise ship off the coast of Japan with hundreds of others because of the spread of the COVID-19 virus on board, is desperately seeking answers that would help them get off the ship and return home.
Allan Chow, 65, and Diana Chow, 60, have been trapped on the Diamond Princess for more than a week — and their family says they’re fearful they’ll be infected with the illness.
“It really instills a fear in them,” said the couple’s daughter, Tiffany Chow, in Toronto.
“They’re scared. They don’t want to open the door; they don’t want to eat the food that isn’t covered. They don’t know what to do but sanitize the room over and over and over again and it’s frustrating.”
The Chows are halfway through a 14-day quarantine of the 19-storey ship carrying 3,500 passengers, which is currently docked in the port city of Yokohama, approximately 27 km outside Tokyo.
Tiffany said the ordeal has been difficult on her sister and herself, watching from afar and feeling helpless.
“We’re very worried about their safety and health,” said Tiffany. “On a daily basis, the number of people infected has grown quite significantly. It’s not just one or two people, it’s 30, 40, 60 people.
“Everyday we wake up, we [wonder] ‘are our parents part of that number?'”
The latest numbers Thursday show that a total of 218 passengers have been infected with COVID-19, 12 of whom are Canadian, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.
Tiffany said her parents have been tested and are one of the more than 200 Canadians on board who have not shown signs of the deadly virus.
She added that they’ve been searching for answers on what passengers can do next and said they haven’t received any helpful responses.
“They’ve gone through [the] emergency help line, they’ve been asking for some sort of communication or a plan,” said Tiffany.
“They’re looking for a sense of comfort that their government is doing something.”
The couple said via social media they may receive an option to finish their quarantine in a “housing facility” on land.
Their tweet said the “obvious choice is to get off the boat, but what are the risks of transfer?”
Princess Cruises said in a press release that “Japanese health officials are planning a voluntary disembarkation of guests to complete their quarantine period at a shoreside facility,” adding that it will be a “phased approach.”
The couple have an active Twitter account under the username @CabinE207PrincessCruise, where they’ve been posting updates of their living conditions.
The quarantine ends on Feb 19.
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