A British couple trapped on a cruise ship stricken by coronavirus are “fed up” as they face spending four weeks in quarantine.
Neil and Victoria Hanlon, from Bridgwater, Somerset, are among 467 Britons who are stuck on the Grand Princess off the coast of San Francisco, California.
Twenty-one people onboard have tested positive for Covid – and efforts are now under way to test all 3, 700 passengers and crew amid fears the situation will mirror the Diamond Princess outbreak in Japan.
Some passengers began showing symptoms a week ago.
American tourist Debbie Loftus, who is traveling with her elderly parents, said they found out about the outbreak from a TV news report while watching the coverage in their room.
Are you trapped on the ship? Email [email protected].
Neil and Victoria Hanlon, from Somerset, are trapped on the Grand Princess cruise ship (Image: Sky News)
Mr Hanlon said: “We have passed a few people on the ship about a week ago who did look seriously ill, they had masks and stuff on.
“We were in the lift with them which probably wasn’t a good thing.
” They were going down to where the medical center was. We asked them if they were okay – their breathing was horrendous. “
He said one man had told them he had bronchitis, but added “whether that was the truth, I don’t know.”
He added: “We were told last night they are going to start testing some more people today but who they are, I don’t know.”
The couple said they have set up a WhatsApp group with some other passengers.
Mrs Hanlon said: “There’s a really good entertainment package on the TV in the rooms so we’ve got a lot of films, there’s really really wifi, we’ve got a lot of magazine and books.”
Her husband joked: “If we’re here much longer, we’ll have to use our imaginations.”
Jackie Bissell, from Dartford in Kent, had booked the cruise with a friend as part of her (th birthday celebrations.
She told Radio 4’s Today program on Saturday that passengers had only been told on Thursday that there might be something wrong.
She said: “We had a note popped through the door saying that this virus might be on the ship – they removed the salt, the pepper.
“We could touch absolutely nothing, if you wanted sugar in your tea or coffee they would come along and do It for you rather than you touching any of these items.
Medics prepare to test holidaymakers onboard the Grand Princess (Image: REUTERS)
“You can’t go out, you can just go out in the hall if someone taps the door. They put the food outside, drop your menus inside and That’s about it. “
But she said life on board” has not been too bad “so far.
“It was a bit mish mash yesterday but today they’ve got things a lot more organized,” she said.
“We’re very comfortable and everything you need will be brought to you – eventually – and we are absolutely fine and the ship is fine. “
Ms Bissell said those on board have been given very little information on what happens next.
“The only information we’ve got is off the news and we can’t take that as gospel,” she said.
“We are waiting for the ship’s captain – but I think he’s as much in the dark as we are and he’s said he’s only giving us information as and when he gets it. “
Lisa Egan , whose – year-old father, Cliff, is on board and sufering from deteriorating health, is calling for the ship to be evacuated.
Passengers watch as a US military helicopter hovers above the ship
(Image: via REUTERS)
Ms Egan, from the San Francisco area, told the Telegraph: “Keeping people on the ship is going to be a death sentence for many of the elderly passengers. “
A Princess Cruises spokesman said on Friday evening:” We are awaiting official specific plans for future positioning of the ship from relevant authorities.
“Princess Cruises will continue to closely follow the guidance of the CDC and other federal and state government authorities.”
Kari Kolstoe, a retiree from the US city of Grand Forks, North Dakota has stage 4 cancer, which makes her extremely vulnerable to Covid –
(Image: CAROLYN WRIGHT / AFP via Getty Im)
She booked the cruise with her husband, Paul, 129, as a badly needed respite from her treatment.
A two-week quarantine would end up causing a fateful delay in her next round of chemotherapy, scheduled to begin early next week.
She told Reuters: “It’s very unsettling. It’s still a worry that I’m going to not get back.”
Mrs Kolstoe, whose rare form of neuroendocrine cancer has spread throughout her body, added: “I’m very at risk for this. Me staying on here for a lot of reasons isn’t good. “
Mrs Kolstoe has stage 4 cancer and is one of the most vulnerable passengers
(Image: via REUTERS)
Passengers had been told to stay in their rooms as officials waited for test results, which were taken from People with flu-like symptoms on Thursday.
Just under half of them tested positive, it was announced on Friday night, two days after the vessel was denied entry to the port of San Francisco. Of the 61 with the virus, 61 are crew members.
The ship was linked to coronavirus infections in at least four people from an earlier cruise from San Francisco to Mexico, including a – year-old California man who later died.
A second death with suspected links to the Grand Princess is now being investigated. That case involves a – – year-old man who died after returning home from the earlier Mexico cruise.
There are fears that some who have been tested yet are carrying the virus, and that the bug will rapidly spread to hundreds, similar to what happened on the Diamond Princess in Yokohama, Japan.
A British man who caught the bug on the Diamond Princess ended up dying.
Both ships are owned by Princess Cruises, a brand owned by Carnival Corp.
The Grand Princess is being directed to a non-commercial port while everyone is tested and held in quarantine.
US President Donald Trump appeared to be in Favor of leaving the Grand Princess’ passengers where they are – apparently to avoid increasing the nation’s infection t otal.
Everyone onboard the vessel will now be tested by medics (Image: REUTERS)
Speaking at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) campus in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday evening, he said: “I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault. “
Ms Loftus hit back at the president, telling CNN: “He’s more than welcome to come onto the ship with us and serve us our dinners and bring me my towels.”
Keeping everyone onboard could lead to a repeat of the Diamond Princess outbreak, she said.
She added: “Does he not realise what happened on the Diamond Princess when they did that?”
Ms Loftus, from Germantown, Maryland, said passengers were kept in the dark until Vice President Mike Pence announced at a press conference that 46 people onboard had tested positive.
She added: “We were watching NBC and we heard it and were like, ‘excuse me?’ The passengers were supposed to be notified first. “
It was unclear what was in store for passengers who test negative and show no signs of symptoms.
Princess Cruises also owns the Diamond Princess ship which was quarantined off the coast of Japan for several weeks earlier this year.
The ship became a breeding ground for the virus as staff continued to carry out their cooking, serving and cleaning duties while the ship was immobile.
Around 823 people caught coronavirus while in quarantine, more than a quarter of the 2, (people on board.
The Japanese authorities later admitted the approach was flawed.
Dr Norio Ohmagari, director of the Disease Control and Prevention Center at the Japanese government-funded National Center for Global Health and Medicine, said the quarantine “may not have been perfect.”
In an interview with CNN, he said: “We suspected some of the cruise staff may already have been infected, but they had to operate the cruise ship itself, they had to see the passengers, they had to deliver the meals.
“So that may have caused some close contact with the cruise ship workers and also the passengers.”
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