Coronavirus outbreak: Ship of doom with 175 confirmed cases including 24 Americans trapped in Japan's waters
A cruise ship off the coast of Japan's Yokohama has confirmed that 175 of its passengers and crew members have become infected with the coronavirus disease, now dubbed COVID -19.
The virus has killed more than 1,100 people and infected over 45,000 people worldwide. The ship — now a floating prison — has the second-highest number of confirmed cases outside Mainland China.
The nightmare began on February 4, when authorities realized a passenger had tested positive for the infection. Subsequently, over 3,700 people — passengers and crew — were locked up.
The 80-year-old man was the only confirmed case back then. Eight days later, Japanese authorities have confirmed that 175 people, including 24 Americans, carry the infection.
According to reports, passengers have been instructed to stay in their rooms, wear masks and only walk on the deck for a couple of minutes each day, keeping at least six feet of distance from other passengers.
While those infected are allowed to leave the ship for treatment, the remaining continue to live in a state of constant fear and panic. They will, however, remain on the ship until February 19.
Crew members, forced to continue working, are pleading. "We are extremely scared," said Binay Kumar Sakar in a video obtained by CNN.
Experts believe that the quarantine could be putting uninfected passengers in harm's way. "They have trapped a bunch of people in a large container with [the] virus. So [I’m] assuming 'quarantine' is generating active transmission," University of Toronto epidemiology professor David Fisman, told Vox.
And this is not the only case. Holland America Line's Westerdam cruise ship has been denied entry by four nations or territories over fears that some of its passengers could have the coronavirus.
In a blog post, the ship operator said that the vessel is not in quarantine and it has no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus on board.
Experts believe that the quarantine measures thrust upon these passengers are unethical. "All the evidence we have got to go on is based on quarantining people who are infected," Mark Eccleston-Turner, a global health law researcher at Keele University in England, told Vox.
When quarantines are done arbitrarily, with no scientific basis, he added, they are "not in line with human rights obligations".