A crew member aboard the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan said she fears the crew is at greater risk of being exposed to the Coronavirus outbreak because they are not being quarantined in the same way as the passengers and are having to continue working to take care of the guests.
More than 3,700 passengers and crew are stuck on the cruise ship in Yokohama that became a floating quarantine zone after dozens of people tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month.
The cruise ship has the largest outbreak of the virus outside of mainland China, with the number of infections continuing to increase day by day.
On Wednesday, Katsunobu Kato, Health Minister, Japan announced 40 new cases among those on board. To date, a total of 175 people aboard the Diamond Princess have become infected.
But while those confirmed to have the virus have been sent to local hospitals, the remaining passengers and crew have been in quarantine on the ship since February 4.
Media attention has so far focused on the ship’s international passengers who paid thousands of dollars for the cruise and are now confined to their rooms.
Gaku Hashimoto, Vice Minister of Health, Japan told CNN, “We are trying to treat all the people equally.”
“We also know that crew members don’t have private rooms like the passengers have, and they still have to work and help on the ship, so it is not all equal. However, we are giving everyone on the ship guidelines for prevention,” Hashimoto added.
In a statement posted on their site, Princess Cruises said that all crew members who have been cleared after an initial health screening by the Japanese Ministry of Health are “fulfilling their duties as required” and additional crew testing by health officials is ongoing. “When not working, crew members are requested to be in their staterooms,” said the statement.
The quarantine, which is scheduled to end on February 19, has led to cabin fever among many — with passengers only allowed out on the deck for a limited time. But as the quarantine continues more than 1,000 crew members remain at work, providing for and interacting with potentially infected passengers and taking care of the ship. They work wearing their uniforms, masks, and gloves.
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