Mum, daughter in windowless lockdown on coronavirus cruise ship

Clare and Lyn Hedger, from Alfredton, are on board the Diamond Princess which is quarantined in Yokohama Harbour after a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Clare Hedger
Clare and Lyn Hedger, from Alfredton, are on board the Diamond Princess which is quarantined in Yokohama Harbour after a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Clare Hedger

A BALLARAT mother and her daughter are enduring a nightmare holiday, stranded inside their windowless cabin onboard a cruise ship in Japan, locked down due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Alfredton's Lyn Hedger and her daughter Clare, from Melbourne, remain confined to their inner deck cabin aboard the Diamond Princess in Yokohama Harbour and are expected to remain there until at least February 19.

Their only source of fresh air since last Wednesday has been two brief walks on the deck, wearing face masks, while being forced to stay at least two metres from other guests.

The ship has been quarantined for 14 days due to an outbreak of coronavirus on board, with the cruise company on Monday reportedly finding 60 more confirmed cases - bringing the total to 130 - of the more than 3000 people on the ship.

All those detected with the virus have since been removed from the ship.

Listen to Lyn Hedger's interview with The Courier here.

The ship was quarantined on the final day of the cruise on February 4.

Mrs Hedger said the quarantine had been a major test of patience.

"It's all a bit up in the air," Mrs Hedger said via phone to The Courier.

"Fourteen days is up on the 19th, but I guess that will sort of depend on what is happening, because there have been more positive cases since that time, we really don't know, we're just waiting to hear what's what.

"Monday night they came round and took our temperature, they started with our floor which is the top floor, and worked their way through the passengers and crew, that took at least 24 hours, so we didn't know then until Wednesday morning that there were 10 positives at that stage."

The room Clare and Lyn Hedger are staying in, before it was quarantined. Picture: Clare Hedger

The room Clare and Lyn Hedger are staying in, before it was quarantined. Picture: Clare Hedger

The cruise was supposed to end on February 4, the day the quarantine began.

On that day, passengers continued to enjoy the activities of the ship, but on Wednesday morning all were placed into isolation.

Without windows, Mrs Hedger said the cruise ship was making an effort to give passengers in internal cabins some air time.

"At least the ones with balconies, while they are limited with the movement, they can still go outside into the air," she said.

"We had an hour, or hour-and-a-half on Friday which they worked through the decks and then all of a sudden we were announced again we could go out on Sunday, so we've had two one hour sessions since Wednesday morning, Tuesday night really."

The cruise ship has made its wifi service free which has allowed passengers to keep in contact with family, friends and the outside world.

See inside their room here.

"There's been a lot of social media, we're lucky in some respect we have some comfort, we have an ensuite but the only way we can see out into the world is the camera from the bridge on the TV," Mrs Hedger said.

"People online have been wonderful all over the place, so that keeps us going.

"Nobody can go outside their cabins at all and it's a very specific area on the deck we can go to. Yesterday in an hour I did 4km walking up and down, that was wonderful really, beautiful air, you just don't realise how wonderful it is to get out there.

"They've provided daily puzzles and things like that, but nobody has entered the cabin since last Tuesday, they just drop things off at the door.

"We haven't had any cleaning or anything like that which we feel it's a bit of an issue. Some people are obviously travelling with children and I just can't imagine what it would be like with children with an inside cabin particularly."

Clare and Lyn Hedger all smiles at the start of the cruise.

Clare and Lyn Hedger all smiles at the start of the cruise.

The Hedger's plight comes as many secondary school students in Ballarat are looking forward to the end of their quarantine period.

Students who had been in China, Hong Kong and Macau over the summer holidays had been asked to postpone their return to school for 14 days after their return to Australia, irrespective of any symptoms.

And anyone who was in mainland China on or after February 1 must self isolate for 14 days.

Federation University, which has about 200 Chinese students, starts their semester at the end of the month.

Princess Cruises says there are 47 confirmed cases of coronavirus that have been detected on board the ship, initially confirming 41 cases on February 6 and a further six on February 8.

"Princess Cruises can confirm the nationalities of the 41 people who were tested positive for coronavirus are from Argentina (one); Australia (five); Canada (five), Japan (21); United Kingdom (one) and United States (eight)," it said in a statement on its website on February 6.

"Separately, over the past two days, 10 guests were disembarked needing other medical (not for coronavirus) and were transferred to local hospitals. Information on nationalities of these new guests will be forthcoming. "

The cruise line says it is doing its utmost to care for the stranded passengers.

"Our guests and crew onboard Diamond Princess are the focus of our entire global organisation right now and all of our hearts are with each of them," Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz said.

"In this unprecedented situation, the Japanese Ministry of Health authorities are working with us collaboratively on additional enhancements, approving new procedures as we adapt our process to the unique challenges of this situation."

The ship has received additional medications which are being sorted and distributed based on medical and urgent priority.

"During the remainder of the time onboard, guests will continue to be provided complimentary internet and telephone service to stay in contact with their family and loved ones," the cruise company said in a statement.

"In addition, we have added additional live TV channels and a large selection of in-room movies available in multiple languages.

"The cruise activities staff is packaging games, puzzles and trivia and delivering them to guest staterooms."

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This story Mum, daughter in windowless lockdown on coronavirus cruise ship first appeared on The Courier.