Quarantined cruise Aussie’s desperate plea
AN AUSTRALIAN woman aboard a quarantined cruise ship in Japan says she is about to run out of medication she needs to stay alive.
Kimberly Vincent, 73, says she has enough to last one week, "but of course we are quarantined for two weeks".
She has filled out a medication request form that was issued to passengers aboard the Diamond Princess yesterday in an urgent bid.
Mrs Vincent's husband Ellis, 76, also requires medicine.
The retired couple are among 223 Australians on board the vessel that is docked at Yokohama, near Tokyo, under an order by the Japanese government.
About 3700 people are stuck on board due to the spread of Coronavirus.
A passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong a few days into the two-week cruise tested positive and since the ship arrived in Yokohama early this week, 20 people are confirmed to be infected. They include two Australians. All of the Coronavirus sufferers have been taken to hospitals in the Yokohama area for treatment.
The global death toll for the coronavirus has reached 565 with more than 28,000 people infected.
The Vincents, who live in the New South Wales town of Banora Point, are disappointed by what they say is a slow response from Australian authorities.
"We've just heard from them for the first time and they apologised for not contacting us earlier," Mrs Vincent said last night.
An email from the Australian Embassy in Tokyo advises recipients to make themselves known to cruise ship staff if they have concerns about their health or medication.
"The embassy is also supporting the two Australians who are currently recovering in hospital in Yokohama, and monitoring their progress closely," it states.
The email acknowledges that those stuck on board find themselves in a "frustrating and difficult" situation. "We … are working with all involved to address this unusual set of circumstances as best as possible," it continues.
Mrs Vincent says aside from her worries about her medication, conditions on board the cruise ship are comfortable.
Food is being delivered to their cabin door. While they have a balcony that opens to the outside, passengers without that are being allowed to access a promenade deck.
Those that venture outside are under strict instructions to wear face masks, stay one metre apart, and not to congregate.
Mrs Vincent, a retired company manger who has dual United States-Australian citizenship, says she is keeping occupied with books and sudoku.
Everyone on board has access to internet and Wi-Fi.
Mr Vincent looks set to celebrate his 77th birthday on board the Diamond Princess on February 17, towards the end of the quarantine period.
He says the ship operator Carnival Cruises has been proactive regarding the situation, unlike Australian authorities.
"A lot of Australians on board have been pretty disgusted by their (DFAT's) response. We've been in port since February 3rd and it's taken them 72 hours to get to everyone," says the retired airline freight executive.
Mr Vincent says the Italian captain who provides regular updates "has been great".
"But there is a tinge of exasperation in his voice that communication is difficult with the authorities here."
Mr Vincent says he "wouldn't be surprised" if more passengers were pulled off the ship with positive tests for Coronavirus.
"I hope this is the end of it," he says of the 20 people infected so far. "But with this virus, you just don't know."
Meanwhile, the World Dream ship is docked at Hong Kong's Kai Tak Cruise Terminal with more than 3600 passengers and crew on-board.
A spokeswoman for Dream Cruises confirmed to News Corp Australia that 15 Australian passengers and one Australian crew member are on-board.
She said no one had tested positive for coronavirus but that they were still being advised to remain on-board the ship.
"33 crew members who have self-declared of having medical symptoms have received testing on the novel coronavirus, all results are negative," she said. "The remainder of the crew had temperature checks, all results are normal."