An Irish couple quarantined with thousands of other cruise ship passengers off Japan have talked about how they deal with days confined to their cabin, with only short breaks outside when they wore facemasks.
The ship, the Diamond Princess, has 621 confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus as of February 19. On Tuesday, it was revealed that two Irish passport holders, who do not reportedly reside in Ireland, had tested positive for the virus.
There are also a small number of Irish nationals on board another cruise ship, the Westerdam off Cambodia, where coronavirus has also been detected.
The Irish couple on the Diamond Princess, believed to be from Co. Meath, spoke to Irish Daily Mail reporter Ronan Smyth on condition they weren’t named.
They told him that a lot of their time is spent in contact with people at home and with other people on the ship with whom they got to know over the past few weeks. The wife said they were into a routine and keeping positive.
“A lot of the time as well is ringing other rooms on the boat making sure people are okay, especially people who have been separated from their partners, just helping each other where we can,” she said.
Apart from waiting for knocks on the door for food to be delivered for breakfast, lunch and dinner the couple had other ways to break up the tedium of the day.
They worked on quizzes and Sudoku dropped off for passengers by the cruise company. They also watched TV and movies, and checked their temperatures regularly over the day to make sure they are not coming down with the virus.
She said, “I’m checking my temperature five to six times a day. We’re fine, no temperatures, no cough.”
She is also trying her hand at origami – a traditional Japanese art involving folding paper. They miss “home food,” but they are coping, and were even sent chips on one occasion.
14 US citizens have tested positive for the virus on the ship. On Sunday, 340 Americans were aboard an evacuation flight to the US.
The quarantine period for remaining passengers which started on February 5 on board the ship in Yokohama, near Tokyo, will be over later this week with staggered disembarkations.
Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Department said that the Irish passengers were receiving consular assistance and were expected to face another two-week quarantine period in Japan once off the ship.
He said there was a second cruise ship, the Westerdam, off Cambodia and there were also a small number of Irish nationals on that. Irish consular services were working with nationals on both ships to make sure they were safe and, if in quarantine, to make sure the conditions were safe.
Latest worldwide coronavirus figures show 2,000 died and there have more than 75,000 infections. Most cases have been diagnosed in China.