Dozens of Britons caught aboard the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship are finally being rescued because buses have arrived to take them to the airport for an evacuation flight after being locked up on the ship for nearly 20 days.
Hazmat suits and face masks are waiting at the port to meet the 70 British as they leave the ship, docked off the coast of Japan since February 3 and board buses to take them to Haneda airport in Tokyo.
MailOnline understands that the flight is expected to depart around 5 p.m. local time (8 p.m.) after British officials have announced a delay of several hours because they have not yet completed a concrete plan.
The passengers were also told to get ready to leave the ship at 11.20 p.m. local time (2.20 p.m.), but they have not yet left the cruise. It is unclear whether the delay will reduce the departure of the flight.
After landing at MoD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, the British are taken away for two weeks in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral, where 94 British were evacuated from the epicenter of the Wuhan outbreak.
It means that the British group – known to be on board before passengers were allowed on board – will spend at least a month in seclusion after stranding on the ship off the coast of Yokohama for nearly 21 days.
According to government sources, the UK does not expect all Britons to flee, claiming that some of them can be deterred by strict screening by doctors in hazmat suits. Other EU nationals are also expected to be on the run.
Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have confirmed that Britons will not be allowed to flee if they are considered ‘too ill’. Anyone who wanted to be repatriated was told that it would take several hours to reach the airport – even if it is only a 20-minute drive.
The British government has been repeatedly accused of its deterrent handling of the planned evacuation, with six countries already managing an air bridge – including the US, which flew 300 residents home on February 16 and 17 on two planes.
More than 76,000 cases of the murderous corona virus have been registered worldwide, including at least 630 on the Diamond Princess. Nearly 2,250 patients died, two of whom were older Japanese passengers on the ship.
Dozens of Britons caught aboard the coronavirus-beaten Diamond Princess are finally rescued because coaches have arrived to take them to a waiting flight after nearly 20 days imprisoned on the ship
A passenger boarding a bus after leaving the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama
Employees dressed in protective clothing load luggage from passengers who get on a bus after they have left the cruise
Doctors measure the body temperature of passengers leaving the Diamond Princess today, now that the two-week quarantine is over
A civil servant in protective suits checks the temperature of passengers who have left the quarantined Diamond Princes
A bus with slogans written in Chinese transports passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship
The Diamond Princess has been moored in Yokohama since 3 February and more than 630 passengers on the giant ship have caught the corona virus
Canadian passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess are depicted as they board a bus after landing at an air force base in Ontario
A bus at the Trenton Air Force Base in Quinte West, Ontario, carries Canadian passengers rescued from the Diamond Princess cruise ship
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged all Britons to stay aboard the Diamond Princess if they wanted to go on the evacuation flight.
But all passengers were free to leave. Every Brit who has stepped off the flight and intends to take a commercial flight home must remain in quarantine for two more weeks.
British officials still have to confirm how many passengers will fly home, but MailOnline understands that ministers don’t expect all 74 to come on board.
Sources also say that the government plans to evacuate other EU nationals who are still on board, but no official plans have been confirmed.
Enraged British trapped in the Diamond Princess have accused ministers of ‘forgetting’ them for taking so long to organize a rescue flight.
WHICH COUNTRIES WERE FASTER THAN THE UK TO EVACUATE THE CITIZEN IN THE CRUISE?
UK: The UK government is currently planning an evacuation flight for around 70 civilians on board. The flight is expected to depart from Tokyo tomorrow (February 22) after a day’s delay.
U.S: Flew 340 of its citizens back split between two flights on 16 and 17 February.
South Korea: Sent one of his president’s jets to Tokyo on Tuesday, February 18 to evacuate five civilians.
Australia: 180 inhabitants of the cruise ship evacuated on February 20.
Hong Kong: Chartered a plane to pick up 106 civilians aboard the Diamond Princess on February 20.
Israel: Commissioned by a private aircraft with 14 seats to bring 12 Israelis home on February 20
Canada: Around 130 Canadians were flown to an army base in Ontario on February 21
Other countries that have announced plans for the UK include Italy.
Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia have since announced plans to evacuate their residents.
Leading scientists have also warned that the cruise is an ideal breeding ground for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Experts describe the ship’s quarantine as a “major outage.”
More than 2,000 people have already left the ship, including more than 1,000 who have been allowed to disembark and return to their normal lives.
It means that the British waiting to be rescued from the virus-ridden cruise will be the last passengers to leave.
Officials announced this morning that the evacuation flight was delayed by at least six hours because this logistics was “complicated.”
The British Embassy in Tokyo said it “worked around the clock to ensure that British nationals could be evacuated as quickly and smoothly as possible.”
Alan Steele, from Wolverhampton, destroyed the Foreign Ministry yesterday because they left British on the virus-ridden ship after half a dozen countries rescued their citizens for the UK.
In a devastating attack on the British government, Mr. Steele accused ministers of “treating us badly” and added: “74 British, what the hell do they matter?” ”
Mr. Steele, 58, who was on a honeymoon during the cruise, was forced to leave his new wife Wendy on the ship when he tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on February 7 and was isolated in a Japanese hospital.
He said that Wendy only “struggled” with the Diamond Princess and compared his experience in a foreign infectious disease department with “solitary confinement in prison.”
The truck driver revealed today that his wife tested negative and joked that they would go to ‘Butlins, the Wirral’ for 14 days – a reference to being quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside.
Alan Steele, from Wolverhampton, was on a honeymoon with his wife Wendy, when the corona virus outbreak broke out on the Diamond Princess cruise ship
He said that Wendy ‘struggled’ with the Diamond Princess on her own and accused the Foreign Ministry of ‘forgetting’ them
HAS MEDICAL STAFF AND CREW RANGE THE QUARANTINE ON THE DIAMOND PRINCESS?
Truck driver Alan Steele has accused Diamond Princess staff of worsening the spread of the virus by ignoring quarantine measures.
He said: ‘The quarantine process was a joke. The quarantine people and the crew actually spread it. They have aggravated the problem. “
Various experts have also questioned the effectiveness of quarantine on the Diamond Princess.
Kentaro Iwata, professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University of Japan, described the situation on board as ‘totally inadequate in terms of infection control’.
Professor Iwata inspected the ship and posted a video on YouTube that highlighted obvious errors, including:
- Passengers and crew members moved freely between the green zone, which is supposedly infection-free, and the red zone affected by virus
- People ate together and lived together before the test results showed whether they were infected or not
- Too many people did not wear protective clothing, including medical and cruise personnel
- There was no professional infection control specialist on board
The Diamond Princess has been moored in Yokohama since 3 February and more than 630 passengers on the giant ship have caught the corona virus.
The Diamond Princess transported more than 3,700 people at the beginning of February, when 10 passengers were diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Since they have been quarantined in the port of Yokohama, a total of 634 passengers and crew members have been infected.
It means that the ship has registered nearly half of all confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China – where 98 percent of infections are registered.
Passengers who tested negative for the corona virus started aboard the Diamond Princess ship on Wednesday – when the official quarantine ended.
Once passengers have left the ship, they are allowed to travel freely, health officials have said.
The average incubation time for coronavirus is fourteen days – so anyone who shows no symptoms at that time is unlikely to have it.
Despite the increasing evidence from infectious disease experts, they could unknowingly take the virus to their community.
Although they are completely safe in Japan, those on Saturday’s evacuation flight are taken directly to Arrowe Park Hospital on Wirral for 14 days of quarantine.
David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, have documented their time on the quarantined ship on Facebook.
The couple is now being treated in a Japanese hospital after days locked up in their cabin after their diagnosis.
Mr. Steele joked that they would go to “Butlins, the Wirral” for 14 days – a reference to a 14-day stay at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside
In another post, Mr. Abel said: “We arrived at the beautiful hospital a few hours ago. Taken by ambulance blues & twos the whole trip … Last communication so don’t worry that you don’t hear from us: see you all before you know it ‘
David Abel, one of the British aboard the Diamond Princess who begged the government to save them, posted a photo of himself in a Japanese hostel today while being treated by Facebook doctors today
He posted a photo of his wife, Sally, who was also being treated. Mrs. Abel was also taken off the cruise after she had tested positive
REVEALED: THE TIME LINE OF THE DELAYED BRITISH EVACUATION FLIGHT
The US was the first to tell Japan that it was going to repatriate hundreds of its citizens aboard the cruise ship, and unveiled plans on February 15.
Then the pressure on the foreign ministry started to increase, but only on February 20 did the ministers confirm that a flight would go ahead.
Officials said the British would be evacuated on board on February 21 and taken to Arrowe Park Hospital on Wirral to be quarantined for 14 days.
But the British embassy gave the plans a blow and said that the logistics were complicated and that the flight would leave 24 hours later.
Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel and South Korea have already saved around 800 residents – and more than 1,000 have left the ship.
MailOnline understands that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not know whether all 74 Britons are still on board because it does not keep track of them.
British passengers were expected to leave the Diamond Princess at 2.20 p.m. (11 p.m. local time) before the evacuation flight.
But they did not release on time – the British began to appear an hour and a half later. It is not clear whether this will further delay the flight.
Holidaymakers were told by an email from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the flight would leave Haneda airport in Tokyo at 8.15 am (5.15 am local time).
He described the collapse in a Japanese hospital and being put in a wheelchair after he became one of the 634 people to catch the corona virus on the ship.
In a Facebook post about his corona virus test, Mr. Abel said: “We arrived at the beautiful hospital a few hours ago.
‘Taken by ambulance blues and two the entire trip. Outside the hospital I was a bit strange and almost fainted.
“Every pore in my body opened and I went to our room. Full health inspection and now we know what’s going on. “
Mr. Abel revealed that both he and his wife had a cold and would undergo chest x-rays and urine tests.
But he added: ‘We are both in the best place! They know what they are doing and our two nurses are beautiful. Sally also loves the doctor. “
The couple, who shared a room in the hospital yesterday, have to test negative three times before being released.
Mr Abel added: ‘Wi-Fi is not working for me, so this will be the last announcement for some time. See you before you know. “
In further reports, he revealed that the couple “thought of all the British flying to the UK tomorrow.”
Mr. and Mrs. Abel’s son today told MailOnline that he could not find his parents after being taken to another hospital overnight.
Mrs. Abel called Stephen at 1 AM in an emergency to say that the couple had been moved to a “more suitable” unit for their needs.
Meanwhile, British people in Cambodia who have left another cruise ship, the Westerdam, and who have been cleared for travel, are assisted by the foreign ministry to find their way home.
The group receives health advice and is assisted with commercial flight bookings. All were tested negative after one case was found on board.
The number of Britons in the group has not been disclosed and it is unclear whether some have already returned to the UK.
Public Health England (PHE) said airport health teams would meet the flights and talk to passengers from Westerdam about any symptoms.
Passengers wave from a bus carrying Hong Kong passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship affected by corona virus
Workers in protective clothing measure the body temperature of a passenger departing from the Diamond Princess cruise ship
Revealed: The Diamond Princess has 13 decks and is 290m long. It had 3,700 people on board – including 1,000 crew members – when it started the 14-day quarantine
WHERE DOES THE WUHAN CORONAVIRUS SPREAD?
If they have no symptoms, passengers receive health advice and are told to isolate themselves for 14 days at home, but if they have symptoms, they are taken to the hospital for tests.
From 2 p.m. on Thursday, a total of 5,549 people have been tested for corona virus in the UK, nine of whom have tested positive.
There are more than 75,000 confirmed infections registered in mainland China and around 1,070 cases in 26 other countries – including those aboard the Diamond Princess.
Authorities in China recorded 118 deaths on Thursday, bringing the total to 2,236 in the country.
In the World Health Organization (WHO) briefing on Thursday, Director General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said: “You will be fed up with the opportunity to prevent this Covid-19 outbreak.
“WHO is making every effort to seize that opportunity and we urge the international community to do the same.”
He said the data continues to show a decline in new cases “but this is not time for complacency.”
It’s because two older Japanese passengers who were taken off the ship earlier this month died after catching the virus, the health ministry confirmed yesterday.
Former passengers and experts have blamed the Diamond Princess for spreading the disease to more than a fifth of the people on board.
Mr Steele described the quarantine process as a “joke” and said that the problem was exacerbated by staff ignoring anti-infection measures.
At least 634 out of 3,700 passengers and crew have tested positive for the virus since the ship was moored in Yokohama Bay.
Mr. Steele said that the Japanese medical staff who came on board to help control the outbreak was the culprit.
He told Sky News this morning: “The quarantine process was a joke. The quarantine people and the crew actually spread it. They have aggravated the problem. “
It is after Kentaro Iwata, professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University of Japan, said the safety measures on board were “completely inadequate.”
Eleven Israeli civilians were flown home on Thursday with a private jet after Israel became the newest nation to launch an evacuation mission for the UK. Four Israelis were left in Japan after being diagnosed with coronavirus
A South Korean presidential plane evacuated six South Korean citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan in quarantine on Wednesday. It arrived at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul
American citizens are being evacuated from the Diamond Princess and transported by shuttle bus in Yokohama to Haneda airport to fly back to the US on a chartered plane on Monday
Australian civilians are met on Thursday by soldiers and doctors in face masks at Darwin International Airport in Darwin, Australia, after being evacuated from the quarantined ship
SON OF BRITISH COUPLE INFECTED WITH CORONAVIRUS SAYS: “I CAN’T GET MY PARENTS”
The son of a British couple infected with the corona virus on the Diamond Princess cruise in Japan today revealed that he cannot catch his parents.
David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, underwent a series of medical tests after being taken from the quarantined ship to a hospital in Yokohama.
But Sally called her son Stephen this morning at 1 AM in distress to say that the couple to another hospital were “more suitable” for their needs.
Now Stephen is frantically trying to find his parents and is considering flying to Japan to be close to them. He said to MailOnline: “I can’t get them.”
David begged the British government to evacuate him before he got the SARS-CoV-2 virus and even asked billionaire Sir Richard Branson for help.
British officials have finally confirmed a repatriation flight for the dozens of Britons still on the doomed cruise – five days after the US had evacuated 300 residents.
But in a cruel turn of fate, neither 74-year-old diabetes David or his wife Sally will be admitted to the flight – now delayed until tomorrow morning local time – because they are being treated in the hospital.
The virus poses a significant threat to the Abels because the elderly and sick people with a compromised immune system run the greatest risk of serious complications.
The Abel family is saddened by the health of David and Sally, amid the fear that the couple may have pneumonia – a known complication of the deadly virus.
Professor Iwata inspected the ship and posted a video on YouTube in which obvious mistakes were made by crew and medical personnel.
He discovered that they were ignoring infection-free zones and virus-attacked areas – meant to be passengers suspected of having separated the virus – and were not wearing protective clothing.
The professor described the situation on the ship as worse than outbreaks he had tackled in the past, such as Ebola in Africa and the 2003 SARS crisis in China.
He said the only time he was afraid of getting the disease himself was when he was on the cruise ship.
Professor Iwata placed himself in a 14-day quarantine for fear of infecting his family after a short visit aboard the ship yesterday.
Meanwhile, Benidorm actress Crissy Rock is experiencing the honeymoon after being quarantined on a month-long cruise of Queen Mary 2 amid angonavirus.
The 61-year-old Brit spent thousands of pounds on the luxurious vacation to celebrate her 2018 marriage to Julian Buck, but did not leave the ship after it was forbidden to dock in multiple ports.
A source close to the scouse star told MailOnline that she is “terrified” and feels “miserable” after the “journey of your life has become a complete disaster.”
“There is a lot of panic on board, a passenger fainted yesterday and nobody really knows where they are or what is going on,” a friend of Crissy explained.
“No one on the ship has coronavirus, but passengers are prohibited from leaving the ship with food and fuel supplies supplied by smaller boats.
‘Crissy has been looking forward to this trip for more than a year, but the only thing she sees is water, because the ship is not allowed to dock at various planned stops.
“Many passengers have experienced at least other countries during the world tour, but Crissy will not leave the ship at all after boarding in Dubai.”
Crissy and husband Julian, who married in 2018 in a movie theme at a cinema in Stockport, boarded the ship in Dubai on January 31.
Er werd verwacht dat ze zouden stoppen bij Maleisië, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam en Phuket als onderdeel van de wereldcruise die ze boekten om hun huwelijksreis te vieren.
‘Complete ramp’: Benidorm-ster Crissy Rock beleeft de wittebroodsweken nadat hij in quarantaine is geplaatst tijdens een cruise van een maand Queen Mary 2 te midden van angonavirusangst (genomen in 2018)
‘Terrified’: Crissy en echtgenoot Julian zijn op 31 januari in Dubai aan boord gegaan en mogen de Queen Mary 2 niet verlaten tot het op 18 februari in Australië aanmeert
TIJDSCHEMA VAN HET CRUISE SCHIP DAT DOOR DE KILLER CORONAVIRUS WORDT GESLAAGD
20 JANUARI: Het Diamond Princess-cruiseschip verlaat Yokohama voor een 14-daagse rondreis in Oost-Azië met 2.666 gasten en 1.045 bemanning
1 FEBRUARI: Gezondheidshoofden in Hong Kong bevestigen dat een passagier die op 25 januari van boord is gegaan het moordenaar coronavirus heeft
3 februari: Princess Cruises vertelt het schip met 13 verdiepingen om een dag eerder terug te keren naar Yokohama voor de veiligheid van de gasten
4 februari Japanse ambtenaren screenen een handvol passagiers en vinden 10 hebben het virus, waaronder twee Australiërs en een Amerikaan. De quarantaine begint
6 februari: Het schip regelt acht nieuwe tv-kanalen, evenals roomservice en gratis internet voor de 3.700 in quarantaine. 31 meer mensen testen positief
9 FEBRUARI: The Diamond Princess kondigt aan dat het de gasten terugbetaalt voor de cruise, vluchten, hotels en transport – en geeft hen een tegoed dat gelijk is aan wat ze hebben betaald
Zesenzestig gevallen worden bevestigd aan boord van het schip, waaronder Alan Steele uit Wolverhampton, elf Amerikanen en vier Australiërs
11 FEBRUARI: Het Japanse ministerie van Volksgezondheid kondigt 39 nieuwe gevallen van SARS-CoV-2 aan over de Diamond Princess
12 februari: Princess Cruises kondigt de ouderen aan en de zieken kunnen vertrekken en quarantaine op het vasteland voltooien. Vierenveertig nieuwe gevallen worden bevestigd
14 FEBRUARI: Brits echtpaar David en Sally Abel smeken miljardair Sir Richard Branson om de 74 Britten die op de cruise vastzitten te repatriëren
15 FEBRUARI: De VS vertelt Japan dat het de volgende dag honderden van zijn burgers aan boord van het cruiseschip gaat repatriëren
16 FEBRUARI: 340 Amerikanen worden op twee vrachtvliegtuigen vanuit Tokio naar militaire bases in Californië en Texas gevlogen. 14 test positief na het ontschepen van het schip
Zevenenzestig nieuwe gevallen zijn opgenomen, waaronder nog vijf Australiërs en Amerikanen. Twelve guests have already voluntarily disembarked – 55 chose to stay
Sir Richard reveals his airline Virgin Atlantic is ‘in discussions’ with UK officials over whether it could help the stranded Brits
FEBRUARY 17: Canada announces it will arrange a chartered aircraft to rescue the Canadian residents quarantined on board the ship
FEBRUARY 18: Officials announce 169 new cases of SARS-CoV2, including three more Brits, as pressure ramps up on the UK to organise an evacuation mission
More cases have now been recorded on the cruise ship (542) than the rest of the world combined – excluding China
Mr and Mrs Abel test positive for the virus and are taken to hospital on the mainland. Their son Steve slams the British government for its handling of the situation
FEBRUARY 19: Princess Cruises confirms Australia, Hong Kong and Canada will fly residents on the Diamond Princess back
Japanese authorities allow 443 passengers to disembark the ship – those not taking government repatriation flights
The UK Foreign Office announces it hopes to organise a flight ‘later this week’ – but admits there’s a chance Brits who disembark won’t be allowed on an airlift
FEBRUARY 20: Two former passengers on the Diamond Princess die. The pair are a man and a woman in their 80s and are the first deaths recorded on the ship
The Foreign Office confirms the Brits still on board will be evacuated on February 21, and will then be taken to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral to be quarantined for 14 days.
Japanese authorities allow 275 passengers to disembark the ship
Australia flies home more than 180 citizens, Canada charters a jet for 200 residents, while Israel uses a private plane to take 11 citizens home
FEBRUARY 21: The British embassy in Tokyo reveals the flight has been delayed by one day and won’t leave until February 22, announcing it was logistically complicated
More than 450 passengers disembark the ship
Indonesia and the Philippines announce plans to evacuate residents still stuck on board
But due to coronavirus fears they are heading straight to Freemantle, Australia, and will not leave the ship until it reaches its destination.
Cruise operator Cunard has confirmed to MailOnline the Queen Mary 2 liner will skip scheduled stops following its pickup in Dubai due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
A spokesman said: ‘We are working around the clock with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Health England to implement control measures for our ships.
‘Due to this, we’ve had to make changes (though we appreciate this is disappointing, but unfortunately vital) to the itinerary.’
The ship has been to all other stops on the tour including Portugal, Italy, Israel and Dubai, where Crissy boarded.
Crissy’s journey will come to an end in Australia with her stopping at no ports and therefore remaining quarantined until the ship docks at Fremantal on February 18.
A spokesman for Crissy said: ‘We can confirm Crissy Rock is on the Queen Mary 2.
‘Crissy boarded the ship in Dubai towards on January 31 and has been on the vessel since.
‘The ship has been unable to dock due to locations on the schedule being hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
‘Crissy is on the ship with her husband to celebrate their honeymoon – they booked the trip months ago.
‘We hope everyone on board returns safely including Crissy who’s been really worried.’
The actress, who stripped off for ITV’s The Real Full Monty alongside Megan Barton-Hanson and Danielle Armstrong last year, is hoping to return to the UK before February 21 for filming commitments.
BEING COOPED UP WITH OTHER PEOPLE CREATES ‘BOILING POT OF TRANSMISSION’
Infections are ‘notorious’ for spreading easily on cruise ships because the boats have large numbers of people cooped up in a relatively small space and using the same facilities for days or weeks on end.
This raises the risk of getting close to someone who is already infected with a virus, whereas on land someone may only pass them in the street.
Past research has found that holidaymakers on-board cruise ships are less likely to maintain good hand hygiene or isolate themselves in their rooms if they become ill.
A global health lawyer in Geneva, Dr Roojin Habibi, said shutting all the passengers in together had created a ‘boiling pot of transmission’ for the virus, The Guardian reported.
This is particularly problematic when it comes to viruses like the coronavirus which infect the lungs and spread on someone’s breath or by coughing and sneezing.
Dr Jimmy Whitworth, a disease expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told MailOnline: ‘Obviously keeping all the people in one place increases the risk for them.
‘Cruise ships are crowded and people are very close to each other. This is a respiratory virus so it’s going to be spreading by droplet spread [breathing/coughing], close contact and contaminated surfaces about the place.
‘This virus is highly transmissible and is tough to control in this circumstance. It was worth a go [the ship quarantine] but it’s simply not worked.’
Writing in a scientific paper titled ‘Infections on Cruise Ships‘, disease expert Dr Vivek Kak, from Jackson, Michigan, said: ‘The isolated environment of a cruise ship, with close interaction between a vast [group] of individuals, increases the risk of a passenger being exposed to various respiratory secretions and, potentially, to infectious respiratory viruses.
‘The presentation of these infections… can range from an upper respiratory tract infection to life-threatening pneumonia.’
Sharing the ship with so many others also makes it more likely someone will touch a surface which has been contaminated by someone who is ill.
The COVID-19 coronavirus is known to be able to survive on hard surfaces for hours – some estimates suggest days – before it stops being contagious.
Handrails, sunbeds or gym equipment, for example, may be a haven for the viruses to live on, and people may catch the infection from contaminated surfaces in places like swimming pools or hot tubs.
VIRUSES SPREAD FASTER AMONG ELDERLY PEOPLE AND THOSE BRINGING STRAINS FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES
Dr Kak also suggested in his paper, which was published in the journal Microbiology Spectrum by the American Society for Microbiology, that the types of people who take cruises may contribute to the spread of illness.
He added: ‘The typical cruise passenger is often an elderly individual and may have chronic illnesses, which can make him or her more susceptible to infection and its complications.’
The immune system naturally gets worse with age, meaning people are less likely to fight off illness so they get sick quicker and stay sick for longer.
There are also people from all over the world who join together on cruises, meaning that seasonal viruses and different strains of illnesses are all mashed together in one place.
Dr Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said: ‘Cruise ships take passengers and crew from all over the world, often passengers are relatively elderly, they spend most of their time on board indoors mixing with others.’
Dr Kak, from Michigan, added: ‘The individuals are often from different cultures, with different immunization backgrounds and health statuses.’
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE DEADLY CORONAVIRUS IN CHINA?
Someone infected with the corona virus can spread it with just a simple cough or sneeze, scientists say.
More than 2,000 people with the virus have now been confirmed to have died and more than 75,000 have been infected. But experts predict that the actual number of people with the disease in Wuhan alone can be 350,000 because they warn that in 100 cases it can kill as many as two. This is what we know so far:
What is the corona virus?
A corona virus is a type of virus that can cause disease in animals and humans. Viruses break into cells in their host and use them to reproduce themselves and disrupt the normal functions of the body. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word “corona”, which means crown, because they are enveloped by a pointed shell that looks like a royal crown.
The corona virus from Wuhan is one that has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been called SARS-CoV-2 by the International Commission on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.
Experts say the bug, which has killed about one in 50 patients since the outbreak in December, is a “sister” to the SARS disease that hit China in 2002, and is therefore named after it.
The disease that causes the virus is called COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The virus itself is called SARS-CoV-2.
Dr. Helena Maier of the Pirbright Institute said: “Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different types, including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, and wildlife.
“Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses that are known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild, common cold, but two new coronaviruses have emerged since 2002 that can infect people and lead to more serious illnesses (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Coronaviruses) .
“Coronaviruses are known to occasionally jump from one species to another, and that happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known. ”
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where around 11 million people live, after physicians first publicly reported infections on December 31.
On January 8, 59 suspected cases were reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and registered cases began to rise.
The first person died that week and on January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people were infected, possibly up to 7,000.
Only a week later there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimate that around 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – had been infected in Wuhan alone. At that time, 26 people had died.
On January 27, more than 2,800 people were infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.
On January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and the number was more than 6,000.
On February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.
On 11 February this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths.
A change in the way in which cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to use lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a peak in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths.
Where does the virus come from?
Scientists say the virus almost certainly comes from bats. Coronaviruses generally have a tendency to occur in animals – it is thought that similar SARS and MERS viruses originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of COVID-19 came from people who visited or worked in a market for live animals in the city, which has since been closed for investigation.
Although the market is officially a fish market, other dead and live animals were sold there, including wolves, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, showed that the genetic makeup virus samples found in patients in China are 96 percent comparable to a corona virus found in bats.
However, there were not many bats on the market, so scientists say it was likely that there was an animal that acted like a middle man, pulling it out of a bat before handing it over to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.
Dr. Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved in the research, but said: “The discovery definitely explains the origin of nCoV in bats in China.
“We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to strengthen the virus and possibly even to bring it to market, nor what species that host could have been.”
Until now, the deaths are fairly low. Why do health experts worry so much about it?
Experts say that the international community is worried about the virus because so little is known about it and it seems to be spreading fast.
It is similar to SARS, which has infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in the sense that it is a type of corona virus that infects people’s lungs.
Another cause for concern is that nobody has immunity to the virus because they have never encountered it before. This means that it may cause more damage than viruses we often encounter, such as the flu or a cold.
Dr. Peter Horby, professor at Oxford University, spoke during a briefing in January: “New viruses can spread through the population much faster than viruses circulating all the time because we have no immunity for them.
“Most seasonal flu viruses have a death rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we are talking about a virus for which we do not fully understand the severity spectrum, but it is possible that the mortality rate can go up to two percent. “
If the death rate is really two percent, it means that two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
“My feeling is that it’s lower,” Dr. added. Horby. “We probably miss this iceberg of milder things. But that is the current condition in which we find ourselves.
“Two percent of the fatal cases are comparable to the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, so it is a major concern worldwide.”
How does the virus spread?
The disease can spread between people, only through coughing and sneezing, making it a highly contagious infection. And it can also spread before someone has symptoms.
It is believed that it travels in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing and parts of cutlery or utensils are all risky.
It was originally thought that people would catch a market for live animals in the city of Wuhan. But soon cases occurred to people who had never been there, so doctors had to realize that it spread from person to person.
There is now evidence that it can spread the third hand – to someone from a person who has caught it from another person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus, it can take two to 14 days, or even longer, before he or she shows symptoms, but they can still be contagious during this time.
When and when they get sick, typical symptoms are runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients – at least 97 percent based on available data – will recover without problems or medical assistance.
In a small group of patients, who appear to be mostly elderly or people with long-term illnesses, this can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the inside of the lungs swells and fills with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if not treated, can be fatal and suffocate.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have registered the genetic sequences of about 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and possibly look into the treatment of the disease they cause.
Research has shown that the coronavirus did not change much – change is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus mutated and adapted as it spread through people.
This means that efforts to study and possibly control the virus can be made extra difficult because the virus can look different every time scientists analyze it.
More research can show whether the virus has first infected a small number of people and then changes and spreads, or whether there are different versions of the virus from animals that have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has a death rate of around two percent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish flu outbreak that killed around 50 million people in 1918.
However, experts say that the actual number of patients is probably considerably higher and therefore the mortality rate is considerably lower. Researchers at Imperial College London estimate that there were 4,000 cases in Wuhan alone until 18 January (up to 9,700) – officially there were only 444 until that date. less dangerous than is now thought, but also much more dispersed.
Experts say it is likely that only the most seriously ill patients seek help and are therefore registered – the vast majority will only have mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions get worse, there is a risk of pneumonia that can destroy the lungs and kill you.
Can the virus be cured?
The COVID-19 virus cannot currently be cured and it is difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are excluded. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus and then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
There is no vaccine for the coronavirus yet and it is unlikely that a vaccine will be developed in time that could be useful in this outbreak for similar reasons as above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this can take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to control the virus and care for patients who are sick and prevent them from infecting other people.
People who contract the disease are quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they are away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are implementing screening measures, such as having doctors on site, measuring people’s temperature to monitor fever, and using thermal screening to detect those who may be sick (infection causes an elevated temperature).
However, it can take weeks for the symptoms to appear, so there is only a small chance that patients will be noticed at an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak is an epidemic when a disease occurs in a community, such as a country or region.
Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak has not yet been classified as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the “global spread of a new disease.”
Dr. Sylvie Briand, head of global contagious preparation for contagious dangers, said: “We are not currently in a pandemic. We are in the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci and we are trying to put an end to the transmission in each of these foci, “the Guardian reported.
She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been “flooded” from the epicenter, so the disease did not spread actively around the world.