What was meant to be a carefree 15-day vacation at sea, San Francisco resident Julie Choy now finds herself in a viral hellscape, trapped inside her small windowless room aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship — some 5,000 miles away from the Bay Area.
Reported first by ABC7, it was confirmed that a Bay Area local is in off-shore quarantine inside the ship owned-and-operated by Princess Cruises, a British cruise ship company, in the waters off Japan. Over 61 passengers have already tested positive for the coronavirus, per Buzzfeed News.
"Everything changed in a blink," Choy says to the ABC7's Luz Pena. "You know [earlier this week] I was on a cruise ship, really happy with entertainment, I could go swimming and now today I'm just in jail."
Choy, however, is far from alone. She's just one of an estimated 3,700 people on board the ship. She was originally supposed to be on board for two weeks, but, now, Choy and her fellow passengers are expected to have to endure another eleven days isolated at sea, until they can leave the ship February 19th.
And despite Choy not showing any symptoms for the novel virus, she's still kept up against her will, which is affecting her mental health. "[I'm having an] anxiety attack because the room I'm in right now is an interior room without windows," she adds to Pena. "So every day and every hour is so long and the same."
To make matters worse, the quarantined NorCal inhabitant is only allowed to leave her room once every four days — for a mere 90-minutes, per outing. She, like others aboard the ship, is responsible for taking her own temperature; food is left at her door, come mealtime; some of her fellow cruise ship goers seem more than content with the served sustenance.
Princess stepping up its game with food service on #DiamondPrincess. Don't believe the honeymooners who would rather be in an American hospital. You might have to drag me off the ship when the quarantine ends. pic.twitter.com/JA4fb2C54S— Matthew Smith (@mjswhitebread) February 7, 2020
Regardless of the tweet-able spread, Choy is counting down the days till she can again step foot on solid ground.
In wake of this pathogenic scare, the Port of San Francisco will also instate new guidelines for cruise ship passengers. "We've worked closely with our cruise ship partners, denying boarding to anyone who has traveled to impacted areas in the last 14 days," said Port of San Francisco spokesman Randy Quezada to ABC7. "Anyone who is sick, we'll notify the coast guard."
This news comes in the wake of a deluge of media coverage on the coronavirus, a pathogen part of a large family of viruses that can infect birds and mammals, including humans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO mentions that like-structured viruses have been responsible for several past global outbreaks, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) pandemic of 2002 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak in South Korea in 2015.
The first American reportedly passed away from the disease yesterday, following the death of doctor and whistleblower for the year-contained epidemic, Li Wenliang. It's believed 34,000-plus people have contracted the disease across 28 countries, according to CNN.