A member of the crew on board a cruise ship where 41 people have tested positive for coronavirus said crew responsible for preparing food and cleaning rooms have not been properly tested for the disease.
A Sydney man who works on the ship told news.com.au that people on board were informed on February 3 that a past guest had been diagnosed with the virus but the ship wasn’t put on lockdown until the following day.
He said everyone has been totally confined to their rooms, apart from the crew who eat together in the mess hall.
“This is part of the problem, as far as I know the crew have not been properly tested. Just a temperature check three days ago,” he said.
“This is the same crew that prepare all the food and clean all the cabins so I’m finding it hard to trust the food we’re served.”
He said one of the most unnerving things about the situation is how quiet the ship is.
“I’ve been on ships a few times and it’s always busting with people. There are no sounds from outside my cabin, it’s eerie,” he said.
Another 41 people on board a cruise ship off Japan’s coast have tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus, Japan’s health minister said on Friday.
The new cases raise the number of confirmed infections on board the ship to at least 61, said Katsunobu Kato.
Japanese authorities have tested 273 people on board the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined after a former passenger, who disembarked in Hong Kong last month, tested positive for the virus.
“The results of the remaining 171 tests came out and 41 tested positive,” Kato told reporters.
“Today they will be sent to hospitals in several prefectures, and we are now preparing for that.” “In total, out of 273 specimens, 61 tested positive,” he added.
There are more than 3700 passengers and crew on the ship, which has been off Japan’s coast since Monday evening.
The ABC is reporting that five Australians are among the 41 new cases. A total of seven Australian passengers are now known to have contracted the virus.
Three of the 41 new patients are relatively young, aged between 20 and 40, while the remaining 38 are between 50 and 80 years old, and most are in their 70s.
The worker told news.com.au that he first found out about the number of people that had been diagnosed by reading the news.
“To me it feels like this quarantine is a mess and we’re all in a dangerous situation, I feel for the elderly and young children on board who must be really, really worried,” he said.
“They are removing more confirmed coronavirus cases each day and I feel like it could continue.
“The ship is compromised, I understand the importance of quarantine but I think we should all do it somewhere safe. The concern is that we’re going to be left here until all 3700 of us are sick.”
It docked in Yokohama on Thursday to resupply for a quarantine that could last until February 19.
Twenty people who were earlier diagnosed with the virus have already been removed from the vessel and taken to hospitals.
TRAVEL WARNING TO AUSTRALIANS
Australians are being warned against travelling to China as coronavirus continues to spread and take more lives.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said people were still travelling from Australia to China in defiance of official advice.
“Those people frankly are putting themselves in a difficult situation,” Mr Dutton told the Nine Network on Friday.
“They would find it very hard to get back to Australia in certain circumstances and you can’t guarantee their return, particularly if China shuts its borders.”
The virus has killed 636 people and infected more than 30,000.
“Putting yourself into that zone makes for a very difficult situation,” Mr Dutton said.
Australian diplomats are working with Chinese officials to allow another evacuation flight from Wuhan.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison says people should not assume further flights would be possible, whether from Wuhan or mainland China.
“DFAT (foreign affairs department) is now in the process of registering our intention to undertake a second chartered flight,” he told parliament on Thursday.
More Australian evacuees touched down on Christmas Island on Thursday after being flown out of Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the outbreak. But the government is already making plans about what to do if the outbreak continues and the quarantine facility set up on Christmas Island reaches its 1200-person capacity.
Mr Morrison says defence officials are working to identify mainland sites to take any overflow, with hotels and mines as possible solutions. The latest group to arrive on Christmas Island are 35 Australian citizens and permanent residents who left Wuhan on Wednesday.
They flew out on an Air New Zealand flight that also took 98 New Zealanders and a number of others to Auckland.
The Australian group was then flown by charter plane to Christmas Island, where they have joined 241 evacuees from an earlier Qantas evacuation flight. All face a two-week quarantine process.
None are suspected to have the virus.
There are now 15 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia: five in Queensland, four each in NSW and Victoria and two in South Australia.