Cruise ship passenger describes life since partner tested positive for coronavirus
TORONTO -- On a quarantined cruise ship anchored outside Yokohama, Japan, Rebecca Frasure ticked ‘yes’ to an inquiry on a questionnaire about painkillers, because she sometimes took them for headaches.
As a result, she and her husband Kent were taken for extra screening -- and she tested positive for coronavirus.
It’s day five of quarantine for Kent Frasure on the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship where so far over 60 passengers have suspected cases of coronavirus, including eight Canadians. He’s been alone in his room since his wife was taken to hospital, he told CTV News, but both of them are holding up.
“We initially thought she had a fever and a little bit of a cough, but since being in the hospital, she hasn’t had any fevers and she’s doing pretty good,” he said.
The two of them have been able to stay in “constant contact” by texting and Facetiming, he said.
The cruise had been a luxurious vacation for the Oregon couple “for the first 15 days,” he said.
“We were actually at the very end of our cruise when the cruise was quarantined. After that, everything’s changed.”
The ship is carrying 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew members. It was first quarantined on Wednesday after there was an outbreak of the virus detected on the ship. Worldwide, coronavirus has infected more than 37,000 people since December, and has killed more than 800, with nearly all the deaths taking place in China.
A Canadian couple on board the Diamond Princess told CTV News on Thursday that Japanese authorities were letting passengers without windows or balconies go outside in groups for brief periods in order to combat cabin fever. They have to wear masks and stand one metre away from each other.
Quarantines are being utilized in ever greater numbers as the virus spreads. A quarantine zone has been set up at a Canadian Forces base in Trenton, Ont. to process Canadian passengers who have been evacuated by plane from Wuhan, China, the centre of the outbreak.
Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist and professor at the University of Toronto, told CTV News that there is a lot more organization and oversight possible at Trenton than in the cramped confines of a cruise ship.
“From an ethical point of view, if quarantine is justified, you really cannot be putting people who are healthy in harm’s way,” he said, pointing out that the movement of individuals is being limited with no criminal activity involved. “To take away people’s fundamental rights to freedom, you have to do everything in your power to protect their wellbeing under all circumstances.”
He said that his concern with quarantine on a cruise ship is that the greater numbers and tight quarters could contribute to a higher risk for passengers to contract the virus “even with confinement to their rooms.”
Frasure has not been allowed to leave his room, but has access to a balcony, which he says helps. The passengers’ food and amenities such as new towels are announced with a knock on the door.
Quarantine is “basically like living in a small apartment,” he says.
“It’s just you’re stuck in a very small room instead of being able to go outside.”
Although the ship updates them on the situation, he said he gets more frequent updates from media reports and friends in the outside world. “It’s kind of slow sometimes getting updates from Princess.”
So far, Frasure’s experienced no symptoms himself.
“It’s really just more of a mental game at this point,” he said. “I feel fine, don’t have any sort of symptoms, even though (my wife and I) did share a cabin for three days after we were tested.”
He has nine more days of quarantine to go before the 14-day period is up. Now, he said, the real challenge is “just getting through it.”