An American woman from yet another cruise ship in Asia has been diagnosed with the coronavirus — just as U.S. officials prepare to evacuate hundreds of U.S. citizens on a separate quarantined ship that has been docked off Japan.
An unidentified 83-year-old woman on the MS Westerdam that finally docked in Cambodia after being shunned by other countries was the first passenger onboard to test positive, health authorities revealed on Saturday, Reuters reported. She was cleared to leave the ship, but then tested positive later for the virus in Malaysia after flying there, reported The Washington Post.
Last week another American woman tested positive for the virus during quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been docked since Feb. 4 in a Japanese port.
“It was like a punch in the gut,” Diamond Princess passenger Rebecca Frasure, 35, of Forest Gove, Oregon, told CNN Saturday. “I was so sure that this was going to come out negative,” she added, referring to the test.
Frasure is one of at least 24 Americans among 355 passengers who were infected with the virus on the ship. None of them can now board a flight to the U.S. with some 380 other American passengers the government plans to evacuate from the ship Sunday evening. Frasure will have to remain in the isolation unit of a Tokyo hospital. Others diagnosed with the coronavirus must also stay behind for treatment in Japan.
Frasure’s husband, Kent, remains on the cruise ship that began with 3,700 passengers and crew members docked off Yokohama, and it’s unclear what he will do.
American passengers who choose to be evacuated face an additional 14 days in quarantine once they land in the U.S. They will be flown to Air Force bases in California or Texas.
Americans on board were angry that officials took so long to take steps to get them off the ship as an increasing number of travelers have become infected.
One passenger told The Daily News that she feels like a “sitting duck,” adding: “I think that every single minute, I’m at greater risk of getting” the virus. She compared the situation to living in a “Stephen King novel.”
The Japanese government said Saturday that it “appreciates” the U.S. government’s decision to offer voluntary evacuation to American citizens on the Diamond Princess.
Frasure is expected to survive, according to Kent Frasure’s father, Evan. But the ordeal has been “scary” for the entire family, he told The Idaho State Journal. Frasure told The Oregonian she has only suffered a “light cough.”
It’s unclear when she will be allowed to leave the hospital.
The MS Westerdam passenger flew to Malaysia Friday from Cambodia along with 144 others from the ship, the Malaysian health ministry said in a statement. She is listed in stable condition, according to Reuters.
The woman’s husband also appeared to have symptoms, but has so far tested negative, Reuters reported. They were the only ones of the 145 who flew to Malaysia with symptoms.
The MS Westerdam docked in the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville Thursday with1,455 passengers and 802 crew. It spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand.
The passengers were tested regularly on board. Fewer than 300 people remained on the ship Saturday, Reuters reported.
The coronavirus, officially know as Covid-19, has killed at least 1,666 people and infected more than 68,500 people globally, the vast majority in mainland China.