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2 Citrus County couples quarantined on cruise ship in Japan amid coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Two couples from Citrus County are among the thousands of passengers quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan where more than 130 passengers and crew members have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Philip and Gay Courter of Crystal River, flew to Japan last month to embark on a two-week voyage on the Diamond Princess. It was the couple’s second time on the cruise line.

Their dream vacation was scheduled to end last week, but Japanese health officials put the ship under a two-week quarantine after a passenger was diagnosed with the virus.

Japan’s health ministry said 135 people on board the ship have tested positive for the virus out of 439 tests carried out. Of the 400 passengers from the United States, nearly two dozen have been infected with the virus, NBC News reports.

The Courters and others have been sharing their experience on social media and in interviews with various outlets across the country.

“We’re definitely not safe on this ship and we need to be evacuated while some of us are still healthy,” Gay Courter told NBC News. “Not on stretchers.”

The Diamond Princess is under quarantine until Feb. 19. According to reports, the government is considering testing all 3,711 passengers and crew members on board.

Courter said the quarantine is not working.

“I’ve been sitting in the same cabin for six days without moving an inch out the door,” she said, “and somehow people keep falling by the wayside like dominos.”

Courter told NBC News she wants the U.S. government to negotiate with Japan a plan to get all of the Americans off the ship.

“Our government needs to step up because if some of us start dying from this, nobody is going to go to Japan for the Olympics and nobody is going to want to be on a cruise ship again,” Courter said.

8 On Your Side reached out to Courter’s elected officials in Congress.

“Our office has reached out to the Department of State to determine exactly what can be done to help these Floridians return safely,” a press secretary from Senator Rick Scott’s office emailed 8 On Your Side.

Congressman Daniel Webster represents Citrus County. His office sent 8 On Your Side the following statement.

“Rep. Webster’s office has been in touch with and reached out to the constituents and their representatives.  We have also been in touch with cruise representatives and federal officials on this matter. We are continuing to monitor the situation, engage with federal officials, share information and follow-up.”

Passengers are unable to leave the ship unless they are sick and can only go on deck in small groups with an hour of supervision. Meals are delivered to their rooms, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“It’s a little bit prison-like, I can’t deny it,” said Courter. “And certainly, 14 days is kind of a long time to be confined to a small space and most of us are just not used to that.”

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