'Please save us...we're scared': Indians quarantined on ship over coronavirus appeal to PM Modi for help
Photo: Binay Kumar Sarkar/Facebook video screengrab

Last week, a ship carrying 3,711 passengers was quarantined off Japan due to diagnosis of coronavirus cases.

On Monday, the Indian Embassy in Japan took to twitter to add that "many Indian crew and some Indian passengers are onboard the cruise ship".

Indian chef and crew member Binay Kumar Sarkar took to Facebook on Monday to appeal to the government of India for help.

"We appeal to the UN and the Government of India to directly intervene in this matter and urgently ensure segregation," can be heard saying in the video.

Sarkar adds that not everyone has been tested yet.

According to him, from among 3,700 people, "only 500 sample have been checked so far". The criterion for testing so far has been fever above 37.5 degrees.

"From the crew, nobody has been checked so far," he added.

Sarkar says that there are 160 Indian crew members and 8 Indian passengers. For now, he adds, 90% of the Indian crew is okay. But he urges the government to act with haste. As he puts it, "If everyone comes once it's done, what's the point?"

"We appeal to PM Modi to help us reach home safely," he can be heard reiterating.

Today more 66 are inflected with Corona virus.... Now total 137 are posetive Corona virus...... Day by day are...

Posted by Binay Kumar Sarkar on Sunday, February 9, 2020

The cruise ship, Diamond Princess, carrying 3,711 people, arrived at the Japanese coast early last week and was quarantined after a passenger who de-boarded last month in Hong Kong was found to be the carrier of the novel virus on the ship.

When the boat arrived off Japan, authorities initially tested nearly 300 people for the virus of the 3,711 on board, gradually evacuating dozens who were infected to local medical facilities. Around 60 people tested positive of the virus on Monday, taking the total number of those infected on the ship to 130.

In recent days, testing has expanded to those with new symptoms or who had close contact with other infected passengers or crew, and several more cases were reported over the weekend.

Those who remain on the ship have been asked to stay inside their cabins and allowed only briefly onto open decks. They have been asked to wear masks and keep a distance from each other when outside, and given thermometers to regularly monitor their temperatures.

The ship is expected to stay in quarantine until February 19 -- 14 days after the isolation period began.

According to an AFP report, people on board the ship are facing difficulty due to the quarantine measures, particularly those in windowless interior cabins and others who require medication for various chronic conditions.

The Japanese health ministry said Monday that around 600 people on board urgently needed medication, and around half received supplies over the weekend, it said.

Meanwhile, the operator of the ship on Monday vowed to refund all 2,666 passengers due to the onboard outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Carnival Japan Inc., the Japanese branch of Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., which operates the ship, said refunds will be offered via travel agencies through which the passengers made their bookings.

The company will additionally cover all costs incurred by those quarantined aboard the ship since last Tuesday, when passengers were originally scheduled to disembark at Yokohama.

"We hope this will help ease our guests' stress even just a little bit," a company official was quoted as saying by The Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

The death toll in the coronavirus outbreak in China has gone up to 908 with 97 new fatalities reported mostly in the worst-affected Hubei province and the confirmed cases of infection crossing 40,000. The coronavirus outbreak originated in central China's Hubei province in December last year.

(With inputs from agencies)

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