At Least 38 More Cases of Coronavirus Aboard Diamond Princess

Ambulances on the dock next to Diamond Princess (Yardley Wong / Twitter)

Published Feb 11, 2020 9:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

38 more people have been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess, multiple passengers reported on social media Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases on board to more than 170.

"We are following guidance from the Japan Ministry of Health on plans for disembarkation protocols to provide medical care for these new cases," Princess Cruises told USA Today in a statement. "It was not unexpected that additional cases would be reported involving individuals who were exposed prior to the start of the quarantine."

USA Today reported the number of additional cases as 39; audio from an onboard announcement indicates that passengers were informed that the daily count was 38. 

In a Q&A released Tuesday, Princess Cruises provided an update on life on board the Diamond Princess. Guests are quarantined to their staterooms, and food and drink are placed outside the door of each room three times a day. The Japanese Ministry of Health has ordered that guests should remain in their staterooms for the duration of the quarantine. However, health authorities are allowing guests to have daily fresh air breaks on open decks.

While the situation on board is no longer a cruise in the traditional sense, several passengers with a presence on social media showed that they are still focused on the good parts - in particular, the food options and the view of Tokyo Bay. 

Princess says that it has increased its sanitation protocols on board the Diamond Princess over and above the usual level, and it has installed an additional 200 hand sanitizer stations on the ship. According to the CDC, there is currently no evidence to suggest that the virus spreads through HVAC systems, so the ship's ventilation system is not considered a possible path for the transmission of the disease. 

Crewmembers who have been cleared by health screening are still going about their duties, and additional crew testing by health officials is ongoing. When not working, crew members are asked to be in their staterooms. They are provided with N95 masks for protection for their duties, along with other PPE. For support, they can access direct phone and video chat with counselors, as well as spiritual and faith-based resources.

Any new guests or crewmembers that have a positive test result will be disembarked and transferred to a medical facility under the care of the Japanese Ministry of Health.

Once the quarantine is lifted, the ship will be taken to a special service dock, where it will receive a "Level 3" cleaning and disinfection - like hospital operating rooms - to fully sanitize all areas.

All guests will receive a full refund of their fare, plus a 100 percent future cruise credit equal to the fare paid for the current voyage. For guests who purchased airfare or hotel stays independently, Princess says that it will also refund reasonable independent expenses.