An American couple who vacationed on the now-quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship together could be at risk of returning home alone.
Rebecca Frasure has been in isolation in a Tokyo hospital away from her husband, Kent, since Friday when she was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus that has reached epidemic levels in China and become a global health crisis.
The Oregon resident told CNBC her heart “just sank” when she found out she had contracted the disease on the docked vessel.
“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say,” said Rebecca, explaining that she had a minor cough but no fever.
“I’m not allowed to leave my room and I’m not allowed to interact with anybody else,” she said in a video that aired on the network’s special “Outbreak” report.
Kent, who tested negative of the disease, remains cordoned alone in the cabin he previously shared with his wife. He will be there at least until the mandatory 14-day quarantine is lifted next Wednesday.
The ship is moored at a Yokohama port near Tokyo as Japanese Ministry of Health officials try to prevent the deadly virus from spreading to the island country.
“We didn’t have a goodbye kiss just ’cause we didn’t really know what was going on,” Kent said in a separate video call with CNBC.
“We Facetime regularly and message each other quite a bit,” he added.
The Frasures were two of 3,700 people on board the Princess Cruise ship, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp., that was placed under quarantined last week. At the time, 10 passengers tested positive for the virus. That number has since grown to 175 total, including a quarantine officer. Diamond Princess is now on day eight of its standstill.
As of Wednesday night, more than 45,000 cases of the coronavirus have been documented. The vast majority of those affected are in China, where the virus originated in the Hubei province city of Wuhan.
While there is no known cure for the coronavirus, which the World Health Organization has named COVID-19, Rebecca said the hospital would treat any cold or flu symptoms but that “the only treatment is isolation.”
“The process for testing is two steps. One throat swab tomorrow and another throat swab 12 hours later, then they have to wait for those results,” Rebecca said. “If both of those tests come back negative, then I could leave.”
But that does not mean she will be quickly reunited with Kent, who is hoping the conditions on the Diamond Princess improve by day 12.
“If they’re still pulling individuals off the ship at that point, I don’t think they’re going to end the quarantine at day 14,” he said.
And Kent is not the only person still on board the ship who fears that the lockdown could be extended. Gay Courter, who vacationed on the Diamond Princess with her husband, Phil, has no faith that the monitoring process is working.
″[Japanese government officials] are letting some people who they claim are the most elderly and vulnerable off the ship,” Gay told the publication. “But they do it behind plastic wrap and fire engines so the press can’t see. It is proof that this whole thing has failed.”