13/02/2020 9:00 AM IST | Updated 13/02/2020 8:05 PM IST

Two Indians With Coronavirus On Cruise Ship Quarantined Off Japan, Another Sends Out SOS

A security officer sent out an appeal for help to the Indian government, the second one in a week.

Tomohiro Ohsumi via Getty Images
Passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship are seen as the ship arrives at Daikoku Pier where it is being resupplied and newly diagnosed coronavirus cases taken for treatment as it remains in quarantine, on February 12, 2020 in Yokohama, Japan.

Two Indian crew on board the cruise ship quarantined off the Japanese coast have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Indian Embassy in Japan said on Wednesday

Authorities confirmed that 174 people on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess had been infected with the deadly disease. A total of 138 Indians, including 132 crew and 6 passengers, are on board the ship.

All the infected people have been taken to hospitals for adequate treatment, including further quarantine, in accordance with the Japanese health protocol, the embassy said.

As news of more cases were reported aboard the cruise ship on Wednesday, an Indian security officer sent out an appeal for help to the Indian government.

Sonali Thakkar, who was placed in isolation on Monday, told NDTV, “We are scared that if the infection is spreading, it is spreading so fast that we could also become one of them. We don’t want to. We just want to go back home.”

“We want the Indian government to take us back to India and isolate us there. Or at least send some more medical staffers across to help these people with the tests. We want to go home,” she told the news channel.

Thakkar’s is the second Indian to send out a public appeal for help from the Indian government. 

Earlier, a crew member, identified as Binay Kumar Sarkar, had posted a Facebook video in which he said, “Please somehow save us as soon as possible. What’s the point if something happens (to us)...I want to request the government of India and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi-ji, please segregate us and bring us back home safely.“

In its statement on Wednesday, the Indian Embassy said it was in constant touch with the Japanese authorities to ensure the welfare of Indian nationals on board the ship as well as the possibility of their early disembarkation, in case they are not found to have tested positive for the virus.

The Embassy of India in Tokyo said it had reached out to the Indian nationals through emails and telephone calls and explained to them about the health and safety regulations of Japanese authorities and requested for cooperation, a statement said.

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“None of the Indian nationals have complained of discriminatory treatment meted out to them,” the embassy said, adding that the mission has been in constant touch with the ship management company- Princess Cruises (for the crew members) and the employer of six passengers to tie up their travel back to India.

The cruise ship Diamond Princess with 3,711 people on board arrived at the Japanese coast early last week and was quarantined after a passenger who de-boarded last month in Hong Kong was found to be the carrier of the novel virus on the ship.

Those on the ship have been asked to wear masks and allowed limited access to the open decks as they are advised to remain in the cabins most of the times to contain the spread of the virus, according to media reports.

Meanwhile, the operator of the ship on Monday vowed to refund all 2,666 passengers due to the on board outbreak of the new coronavirus.

The company will additionally cover all costs incurred by those quarantined aboard the ship since last Tuesday, when passengers were originally scheduled to disembark at Yokohama.

Virus death toll in Hubei surges by 242 in one day: Chinese Govt

The number of fatalities and new cases from China’s coronavirus outbreak soared on Thursday, with 242 more deaths and nearly 15,000 extra patients in hard-hit Hubei province, AFP reported.

At least 1,355 people have now died in China and nearly 60,000 have been infected after Hubei’s health commission reported the new numbers.

In its daily update, Hubei’s health commission confirmed another 14,840 new cases in the central province, where the outbreak emerged in December.

(With PTI inputs)

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