New Delhi: An Indian crew member onboard the Japanese luxury ‘Diamond Princess’ cruise liner that had been quarantined since February after a suspected coronavirus case sent an SOS to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking help from the central government to bring the 160 Indians ‘back home safely’.
Panic struck the cruise on Monday morning after Japan’s Health Ministry confirmed that the number of people who tested positive for the novel coronavirus on the quarantined ship off the coast of Yokohama has increased to over 130, after the emergence of nearly 66 fresh cases.
According to a report by NDTV, Binay Kumar Sarkar, a chef from North Bengal had taken social media to appeal to the Indian government for help as there was utter chaos on the cruise ship.
In his SOS video, Sarkar urged the government that none of his Indian colleagues or him was checked for the epidemic-causing virus. Begging for a safe return home before they get infected, he asked PM Modi to segregate the Indians on the ship and bring them back home at the soonest.
The confirmed cases on the ‘Diamond Princess’ ship is the second-highest figure after China which confirmed 908 deaths and 40,171 infections as of this morning.
Japan’s Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry said that it was considering testing all of the 3,600 people aboard the ship once the two-week necessary quarantine ends on February 19. Following that, the passengers who are clear of the virus can leave the vessel.
“We need to properly address the unease and concerns of our citizens,” said Health Minister Katsunobu Kato.
The checks on Diamond Princess began after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man who had been on the ship last month fell ill with a confirmed infection of coronavirus. He had boarded the cruise ship in Yokohama on January 20 and disembarked in Hong Kong five days later. Meanwhile, Hong Kong authorities on Sunday allowed over 3,600 passengers that were forced into quarantine for five days on the World Dream cruise ship over coronavirus fears, to disembark.
Half of the travellers have passed “numerous medical tests” and temperature controls, and all the tests carried out on the ship’s 1,814 crew members have come back negative for coronavirus. Subsequently, the cruise operator Dream Cruises had suspended the operation of the ship until further notice.
MS Westerdam, which docked in Hong Kong last week, was also banned from entering ports in the Philippines and Japan over fears passengers could be infected with the deadly disease, despite no knowledge of infections aboard.