Passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship have been trapped in a nightmare ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China. The ship has been quarantined in Japan since February 3.
Now, plans are finally in the works to evacuate them–but not everyone is happy about it.
Thousands of Passengers Quarantined
Currently, more than 500 of the 3,711 passengers and crew aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship have become infected by the coronavirus. That makes it the largest concentration of the virus outside China–and the target for debate about how to deal with the outbreak.
The passengers were supposed to remain onboard for two full weeks; however, more than 300 Americans have already been flown to military bases in California. At least 14 of them tested positive for the flu-like virus.
The evacuated passengers will have to endure an additional period of quarantine to avoid spreading the virus.
At least one American passenger isn’t happy with this decision. Matthew Smith tweeted:
“From tragedy to comedy to farce. The US government instead wants to take us off without testing, fly us back to the US with a bunch of other untested people, and then stick us in 2 more weeks of quarantine? How does that make any sense at all?”
However, some passengers from other countries think the US offering to fly citizens back to American soil early represents preferential treatment.
Canadian passenger Rose Yerex said, “It really kind of shows the difference here between the two countries,” she said. “So, hey, congratulations to you guys who are Americans and you are getting to leave. Your government is supporting you, ours isn’t.”
Coronavirus Worsening in Mainland China
There are now more than 73,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, but the World Health Organization warns that the number might actually be much higher.
Over 1,800 people have died during the outbreak so far. Five of those deaths were outside China, hinting that the virus has the potential to cut a deadly swath across the globe.
While the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are the most at risk, medical staff are also in danger.
Hospital director Liu Zhiming of Wuhan passed away from the coronavirus on Tuesday morning. China has vowed to honor fallen medical personnel like Liu as “martyrs,” according to CNN.