Five Washington residents are among the 3,700 people locked down on a cruise ship in Japan amid the novel coronavirus outbreak that has sickened tens of thousands and killed more than 1,100 people worldwide.
Japan’s health ministry says 39 new cases of the virus have been confirmed on the Diamond Princess, bringing the total number of cases on the cruise ship to 174.
Japanese health officials began medical checks on all of the ship's 3,700 passengers and crew after one previous passenger tested positive for the new virus. The new cases bring Japan's total to 203 people with the the new disease, COVID-19.
One of those Washingtonians, Marianne Obenchain of Olympia, spoke to Q13 News via Facetime.
Obenchain said passengers are confined to their cabin and only allowed out in groups for an hour a day on the main deck. She's one of the lucky ones, she said, because her room has a deck.
"Well, it is a little bit stressful, and it's hard to stay positive. But it could be worse. We could be one of the people sitting in the hospital wondering how things are going to go," she said from her room's balcony," she said.
A couple from Richland is also stuck on the ship. Their daughter says her father has run out of heart medication.
According to the WHO, more than 43,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in 28 countries and territories around the world, with the death toll this week exceeding 1,000. There are 13 cases in the United States, with one of those in Washington state.