A single passenger tested positive, ultimately infected 700 passengers
Known as a “treasure trove” this sea jewel, Diamond Princess has now turned to a nightmare. Diamond Princess offered a rare opportunity for researchers to understand the nature of this new coronavirus which otherwise would be difficult to evaluate on a wider population. An epidemiologist at Stanford University in California said “Cruise ships are like an ideal experiment of a closed population. You know exactly who is there and at risk and you can measure everyone”. With over 3000 people onboard the ship was immediately quarantined on Feb 3 after one passenger tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb 1. Over a month, around 700 passengers were infected with COVID-19 and this was the largest outbreak outside China.
Delayed response? Always!
COVID-19 is now a global pandemic with countries taking defensive measures to break the spread chain, different stories of how it spread on cruise ships are doing rounds on social media and news reports. An article by Medical News Today, “COVID-19 quarantine of Diamond Princess may have led to more infections”, which was published on March 3, 2020, pointed towards delayed actions of authorities on evacuating the cruise that might have prevented the COVID-19 spread. On Feb 3, 10 passengers abord ship tested positive and isolated the following day. As soon as the cruise reached in waters of Yokohama, Japan those who tested positive were isolated in ashore hospital and the rest of the passengers and crew members were prohibited by the Japanese authorities to disembark. As a result, 17% of people aboard tested positive when quarantine was lifted by Japanese authorities.
It spread through the food caterers
Apart from that, a new investigation by Japan’s National Institute of Infectious disease found out that the initial spread was among food workers and out of 20 crew members who tested positive, 15 are food service workers on the Diamond Princess. Crew members who lived on the ship’s third deck kept on working to provide services to the rest of the passengers and by Feb 18, they accounted for 12% of those infected. “We suspected some of the cruise staff may have already been…..they had to operate the cruise ship itself, they had to see the passengers, they had to deliver the meals”, Norio Ohmagari, the director of Japan’s Disease Control and Prevention Center told CNN.
Biggest hindrance to avoid the spread of this novel coronavirus is that-it’s hard to trace, the answers to how it spreads are still vague. This is what exactly has happened in case of Diamond Princess. A study published by CDC on March 23, 2020 found the traces of COVID-19 in the cabins of Diamond Princess 17 days after the passengers left. COVID-19 has spread across the world with thousands of people infected and hundreds of dying there is still no cure. These are the precautions on our end that are saving us The nature of COVID-19 is highly worrying because of its unpredictability. We don’t know where it is and how it will infect us, the symptoms are not homogenous. Coronavirus on Diamond Princess spread like wildfire because it is highly infectious. All we can do is follow the regulations prescribed by the govt. and stick to them throughout! Stay safe, stay healthy!