Princess Cruises provides update on Diamond Princess coronavirus cases

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Princess Cruises has confirmed that an additional 41 people have tested positive for Coronavirus on board Diamond Princess. Affected passengers are from Argentina (one); Australia (five); Canada (five), Japan (21); the UK (one) and the USA (eight).

According to the cruise line, the Japanese Ministry of Health has confirmed this is the last batch of passengers to be tested. The quarantine is expected to end on 19 February, barring unforeseen developments. The Japanese government is providing additional support for the ship and crew, including additional manpower.

Princess is offering guests complimentary internet and telephone service to stay in contact with their family and loved ones. They have also added eight new satellite TV channels, and more than 80 new video-on-demand releases, including movies in various languages, concerts and in-cabin fitness videos. Passengers are being offered printed newspapers in 36 languages, and the cruise activities staff are also packaging games, puzzles and trivia and delivering them to guest staterooms. Other provisions include Radio Taiso callisthenics videos, kids’ activity packs, and food and beverage offered via room service.

Guests in interior staterooms are being offered outdoor time under the guidance of the Japanese Ministry of Health.

On 4 February, Princess Cruises confirmed that 10 people on board Diamond Princess had tested positive for novel coronavirus, following the first phase of health screening of all guests and crew on board by the Japanese Ministry of Health. This included two Australian guests, three Japanese guests, three guests from Hong Kong, and one guest from the USA, in addition to one Filipino crew member.

The 10 people affected by the virus were notified of the Japanese Ministry of Health’s findings and taken ashore by Japanese Coast Guard watercraft to be transported to local hospitals for care by shoreside Japanese medical professionals.

The ship goes out to sea to perform normal marine operations including the production of fresh water and ballast operations before proceeding alongside in Yokohama for food, provisions and other supplies to be brought on board. The ship’s crew is working to keep all guests comfortable.

There are 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew currently on board, representing a range of nationalities. Approximately half the guests are from Japan.

“Princess Cruises will continue to fully cooperate with and follow the instructions of global medical authorities and the Japanese government,” the cruise line said in a statement. “We will also be cancelling the next two Diamond Princess cruises departing Yokohama (4 February and 12 February) and will begin notifying guests today.”

Diamond Princess was due to depart Yokohama on 4 February 2020 for an eight-day round-trip cruise, but this was cancelled to allow time for the authorities to complete their health review. All guests will receive a full refund as well as a 100% future cruise credit.

On the previous voyage, a guest from Hong Kong embarked in Yokohama on 20 January, sailed one segment of the itinerary and disembarked in Hong Kong on 25 January. Six days after leaving the ship, he visited a local hospital where he tested positive for coronavirus on 1 February. “While on the ship he did not visit the ship’s medical centre to report any symptoms or illness,” the cruise line stated. “The hospital reports that he is in stable condition and the family members travelling with him remain symptom-free.”

A number of cruise lines have cancelled planned itineraries as concern grows over the spread of novel coronavirus. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) issued a statement on 31 January, following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of a global health emergency.

“The safety and health of passengers is the number-one priority of CLIA members,” it stated. “CLIA and its member lines maintain close contact with health professionals and regulators around the world, including the WHO, and are continually assessing and modifying policies and procedures as developments emerge. This includes the modification of itineraries, where needed, in light of evolving circumstances, as well as health, travel and contact screening where appropriate, for guests and crew who have recently travelled from or through the affected area consistent with prevailing guidance from global health authorities. Screening protocols allow for informed decisions on a case-by-case basis whether a guest or crew member will be denied boarding.”

CLIA member cruise lines also suspended crew movements from mainland China and are denying boarding to individuals who travelled from or through mainland China within the previous 14 days.

“The cruise industry is one of the most well-equipped and experienced when it comes to managing and monitoring health conditions of passengers and crew,” CLIA stated. “Cruise lines take precautions to conduct passive as well as active screening of passengers and crew for illness prior to boarding when circumstances demand. Furthermore, CLIA members implement outbreak prevention and response measures and their ships must be fitted with medical facilities, shipboard and shore-side medical professionals available around the clock, 24/7, to provide initial medical care in the event of illness and prevent disease transmission.”

Updated on 7 February 

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Marisa has been writing about transport design and the passenger experience since 2013 and is also a contributor to sister titles Aircraft Interiors International and Business Jet Interiors International. She has travelled the world extensively by car, plane, train and cruise liner.

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