Coronavirus outbreak: Stranded and nowhere to go! Hundreds of passengers on cruise ships from China not allowed to deboard

Yash Shukla
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Coronavirus outbreak: Measures to stem the spread of novel Coronavirus, which has devoured more than a thousand lives in China, have stepped up across the world with airlines and countries imposing a blanket ban on people holding a Chinese passport. After curtailing the means of air travel to and from China, the efforts have moved on to other slow-paced transport systems including cruise ships which have Chinese passengers. Passengers on the cruise ships which have been to China and its periphery including Hong Kong and Macau are also not being allowed to deboard in their destination countries. Hundreds of passengers have been stranded on the ships for days at a stretch. Measures to quarantine the passengers are also being followed by different countries.

Worst of the lot is Carnival Corp’s Diamond Princess cruise ship on which 174 positive cases of coronavirus have been traced. The ship has been docked at Yokohama Japan with the Japenese government refusing to let the passengers disembark from the ship, according to a report by the Global News. More than 3700 passengers and crew members on the ship have been put under quarantine measures until February 19 which is more than six days away. Case of MS Westerdam Cruise ship further reflects the gravity of the situation. The ship which had touched the Honk Kong shore for a day on February 1 is facing an all-round boycott of sorts with four countries having refused entry to its passengers including Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. The ship with 2200 passengers onboard has been docked at a port in Thailand and has so far not reported any positive case of Coronavirus.

However, questions have also been raised about the efficacy of putting onboard passengers under quarantine. Hospitals are the best places for effective use of quarantine measures and not the ships, says Tara Smith, a professor at Kent State University’s College of Public health. She further adds that the measure was adopted in haste without putting much emphasis on the consequences of ongoing transmission within the ship and mental health of the passengers.