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Diamond Princess.jpeg FILE PHOTO: PRINCESS CRUISES
Princess Cruises is providing mental health counseling by phone for those experiencing stress. All costs for the cruise, including any incidentals incurred during the additional quarantine period, will be covered by the line

Diamond Princess coronavirus count rises to 69

Six more people were confirmed to have coronavirus on the quarantined Diamond Princess in Yokohama Sunday. That makes 69 from the current cruise.

News reports said five of the six are crew, citing an announcement by the captain. Their nationalities were not immediately available from Princess Cruises.

(Some news outlets list 70 people, not 69, because they include a man on the prior cruise who was later diagnosed.)

Some with other medical conditions are disembarked

The newly diagnosed are immediately taken to hospitals ashore.

Plus, over the weekend, 10 people with non-coronavirus medical issues were disembarked for treatment at local hospitals, as well.

News outlets including The New York Times have been continuing detailed Diamond Princess coverage as a front-page story. Sunday’s Times cited passengers unnerved by the sight of ambulances on the pier and people concerned that cases continue to rise, while not everyone has been tested.

Japanese public health officials reportedly took samples from people who may have had contact with the man on the prior cruise who was later diagnosed at a Hong Kong hospital. The total number tested was not immediately available.

The man's case prompted the ship’s quarantine on Feb. 3.

As earlier reported, the Japan Ministry of Health has stated the quarantine will end Feb. 19, unless there are unforeseen developments. Fourteen days is the standard incubation period recognized by the World Health Organization and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC addresses HVAC speculation

The Times also reported passengers were speculating the virus could be circulating through the ship’s ventilation system, and concerns were expressed to the US Embassy in Tokyo. The Embassy sent the 428 US passengers on board a letter from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating there is no current evidence to suggest the virus spreads between rooms through the air-handling system.

Diamond Princess is back alongside in Yokohama after going out to sea for a stint. Passengers remain confined to their cabins apart from organized visits to the open decks for fresh air.

Since some people with pre-existing conditions were running low on medications, Princess in partnership with the Japanese Ministry of Health has obtained additional medications which were being sorted and distributed.

Jan Swartz speaks

‘Our guests and crew on board Diamond Princess are the focus of our entire global organization right now and all of our hearts are with each of them,’ Princess President Jan Swartz said in her first public comments on the matter. ‘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,’ she added.

Mental health counseling

Princess said it continues to look for the most effective ways to keep passengers healthy, which includes mental health. Telephone access has been arranged for those experiencing stress. Both English- and Japanese-speaking counselors are available, and passengers can call directly from their rooms.

Television programming has been improved by the day and printed newspapers in 30 languages are available. The ship’s entertainment team has added TV satellite stations along with more than 50 additional movies in various languages and other entertainment. Passengers also have access to fitness and exercise videos such as tai chi and yoga. 

Full refunds, future cruise credit and all incidentals covered

Princess has informed those on board it will refund their full cruise costs including air travel, hotel, ground transportation, pre-paid shore excursions, gratuities and other items. In addition, nobody will be charged for any shipboard incidentals incurred during the additional time on board. 

The line will also provide a future cruise credit equal to the fare paid for the voyage ended Feb. 4. 

Although all gratuities will be refunded to travelers, Princess assured crew will receive their designated gratuities for the work performed. 

Diamond Princess was carrying 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew from a range of nationalities when it arrived at Yokohama Feb. 3. About half the passengers are from Japan.

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