The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 has infected over 43,000 people and killed over 1000 people across the world as on Tuesday as per the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Diamond Princess is a cruise liner which has been quarantined in Yokohama in Japan since February 3 after around 140 people inside the ship tested positive for coronavirus. There are around 3500 people inside the ship including 1000 crew. This includes 138 Indians. Though the Japanese government had isolated the infected passengers and even taken some of them outside the ship, the crew members were not instructed to follow basic precautions to prevent the spread of the highly infectious virus.
Speaking to TNM about the situation inside the ship, one crew member said that this comes as a shock to them since they weren’t officially informed about their colleagues being infected.
“On Wednesday morning, we got a call from Indian Embassy in Tokyo and we told them clearly that while passengers have been safely isolated, we crew members have been left to lead normal lives inside the ship (despite the high-risk condition). They just acknowledged it and said they will note it down,” he said requesting anonymity. It was during dinner, which are simple buffet meals had by the crew seated together, that they noticed something different. “They were not allowing us all in at once, like we usually go. We were wondering what happened suddenly. Now we come to know that two of the crew members have been tested positive for coronavirus,” he added.
The crew members allege that the ship’s management had not treated them the same way the passengers were treated to avoid the spread of the virus. Only after a few videos from some crew members went viral across the world did they reportedly distribute hygiene supplies, including hand sanitisers, wet tissues, thermometers and masks, to the crew.
“There are around 1000 crew members and they did not care for any of us since the start of the outbreak. I had been insisting for them to give us the necessary precautions since they were letting us all move around in public and together inside the ship,” the crew member added.
Describing the situation inside the ship at present, the crew member said that there are around 50 doctors and 50 nurses on board, tending to the affected passengers. The living area of the crew is also being slowly sanitised and cleaned up, after two of them were tested positive, he added.
The infected Indians have been isolated from the crew and are being treated by the doctors and nurses on board the ship. However, the remaining Indians in the crew worry about their health and when they will be evacuated safely from the ship.
The Embassy in Tokyo had assured their safe return to India in 10 days, before two of the Indian crew members were infected by the virus.
“Now that two of our own have got the infection, we are really worried and scared. This number can multiply in the next few days. Let’s see what happens,” says the crew member.