As any statistic website will demonstrate, the Diamond Princess cruise ship was, for a considerable period, among the worst-hit by the coronavirus. Second only to China for many weeks, the luxury liner’s case numbers have now fallen back to fifth place in terms of the total number of confirmed cases and deaths by country, territory or conveyance. The total number of deaths of passengers that were onboard the ship now sits at six, with a total of 706 confirmed cases (600 of which are active) and 100 recoveries.
While South Korea, Italy and Iran have all since overtaken the Diamond Princess in terms of confirmed cases and deaths (China has 29,833 active cases and 2,945 deaths; South Korea, 5,124 active and 28 deaths; Italy, 1,835 active and 52 deaths; and Iran, 1,144 active and 66 deaths), there have been allegations that the colossal rate at which the virus spread on the cruise ship (from 10 to 700 cases in two weeks) highlights bad decision making and poor hygiene practices onboard the vessel.
Now, around four weeks after the first 10 passengers tested positive for the virus, the final passengers and crew members have disembarked from the ship. Most recently, 32 Irish and British nationals onboard the quarantined cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan, have been able to safely return to the UK, thanks to Air Partner’s repatriation and security screenings of the passengers. The global aviation group worked alongside the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), ensuring that all Public Health England health and safety protocols were adhered to at all times, including required isolation areas on the repatriating aircraft, protective personal equipment and segregation
Our next issue of ITIJ will feature an in-depth exploration of this topic, investigating how the cruise industry handled the spread of the coronavirus and looking more broadly at the challenges the cruise industry faces when it comes to disease outbreaks.