Coronavirus: Outbreak on quarantined cruise ship, group urges government against tourism ‘handouts’

Sakata; Japan - 30 Sep 2019 : Tourist are Boarding the Diamond princess cruise in Sakata port; Japan.

At least 10 people onboard a Princess Cruises ship have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Japan’s health minister, Katsunobu Kato, told a news conference that 273 people onboard Diamond Princess, which is currently docked in Yokohama, have been tested for the virus with 10 of the 31 results that have so far come back testing positive.

There are about 3,700 passengers currently onboard the ship.

According to the Guardian, the ship has been quarantined since Monday after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong on 25 January tested positive for the virus.

Kato said only passengers who had been in contact with the infected passenger or were feeling unwell had been tested. The 10 infected passengers have been transferred to a Japanese hospital.

The nationality of those infected is not yet known, but a spokesperson from Princess Cruises told Travel Weekly that there are a range of nationalities on board but approximately half the guests are from Japan.

Kato has confirmed three of the 10 cases are Japanese nationals.

According to the princess cruises spokesperson, the ship will remain in quarantine for at least 14 days.

“Guests will continue to be provided complimentary internet and telephone to use in order to stay in contact with their family and loved ones, and the ship’s crew is working to keep all guests comfortable,” the spokesperson said.

“We will also be cancelling the next two Diamond Princess cruises departing Yokohama (Feb 4 and Feb 12) and will begin notifying guests today.”

Group calls for a stop to government handouts

An advocacy group is calling on the government to reframe from giving the tourism industry ‘handouts’ to counteract to the China travel ban.

The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance’s (ATA) policy director  Emily Dye said she doesn’t believe travel agencies are in need of subsidisation.

“A travel ban is instituted. Less than a week later the tourism industry has begun begging for government funding like a kid in a toy store begging for a chinpokomon because his friend Stan has one,” she said.

“Farmers have received subsidies after suffering for years in a government made drought. Bushfire survivors have received aid after losing everything to the fires. I don’t think travel agencies quite make the cut?

“The taxpayers don’t need to subsidise every industry facing hard times.

“The taxpayers are not responsible for poor business practices in the tourism industry. By not subsidising an industry, we force them to be better. No one said going into business was easy.”

Dye said the travel industry needs to diversify its business and reframe from putting all its “bats in one basket”

“Travel agencies still have 194 countries they can do business with,” she said.

This comes as new restrictions came into play as of 1 February denying entry to Australia for those who have left or transited through mainland china, excluding Australian citizens, in reaction to the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.

Research has indicated the virus could lead Australia’s GDP to fall by as much as $2.3 billion.

China is the largest source of short-term visitors to Australia, with 1.45 million arrivals last year.

Aussie evacuees face adverse conditions on Christmas Island

Images have emerged of the conditions faced by the 240 Australian citizens and permanent residences currently quarantined on Christmas Island after being evacuated out of Wuhan, where coronavirus originated.

According to ABC News, the evacuees are battling cockroaches in their bedrooms, bad internet connections, poor hygiene standards and questionable food.

Belinda Chen, who is at the quarantine centre with her two children, told ABC News she is concerned about the hygiene standards and her children are too scared to touch the beds.

“The hygiene issues make it worse than a prison,” Chen said.

“I understood that there would be very limited facilities here, but the actual condition is no facilities at all.

“It’s thousands of times worse than I imagined.”

However other evacuees told the broadcaster that the conditions were “acceptable”.

“Except the shared bathroom, everything else is okay,” said another evacuee named Jim, who also described the conditions as “better than camping”.

WHO speaks out against travel bans 

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has spoken out against trade and travel restrictions against China.

According to ABC News, WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesys said such measures could cause “fear and stigma”.

The virus has killed 490 people so far and has infected more than 20,000.

Featured image credit: iStock.com/junce.

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