What life is like onboard quarantined cruise ship stopped for fear of coronavirus

TORONTO — Canadian passengers aboard a quarantined cruise ship off the coast of Japan are describing the cramped conditions and extra precautions being taken over fears that guests may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.

Rosemarie Yerex, from Port Dover, Ont., and her husband have been confined to their room on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship for nearly three days.

“We’re getting to know each other a lot better, let’s put it that way,” she told CTV News on Thursday, with a chuckle.

Yerex and her husband do whatever they can to pass the time, which includes watching TV, playing cards and spending time on Facebook. The ship has maintained regular internet access.

Yerex is among the nearly 250 Canadian passengers on board the cruise ship. The vessels and its 3,700 passengers and crew are expected to remain under quarantine for two weeks, anchored outside of Yokohama, Japan. Twenty people have tested positive for the disease, including two Canadians.

All of the infected passengers, who are mostly in their 60s and 70s, have been transported to a hospital in Yokohama.

While Yerex’s suite has a balcony where they can stretch their legs, other passengers aren’t so lucky.

People in cabins with no windows or balcony will be among the first groups able to go outside on the Diamond Princess.

Yerex explained, each day, Japanese authorities have allowed groups of passengers to be on the ship’s deck for an hour and a half, as long as they’re wearing masks and standing one metre apart from each other.

Canadian passenger Kim Phillips told CTV News channel, “When we didn’t know what was happening. Everyone felt uneasy.” But now, she says, we “just have to deal with it.”

Yerex noted the captain is now regularly updating passengers, with crew occasionally dropping printed pages of information in their room’s mailboxes. She said the crew comes around three times a day with masks on to deliver meals.

But beyond that, Yerex said, “There’s really not much in the way of contact.”

The Diamond Princess isn’t the only vessel that has been quarantined. More than 3,600 people on board a cruise ship in Hong Kong are being screened after some passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.

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