Elderly Taiwanese man on Diamond Princess hospitalized with Wuhan virus

02/14/2020 02:37 PM
Photo by Kyodo News
Photo by Kyodo News

Taipei, Feb. 14 (CNA) An 85-year-old Taiwanese passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise liner, which is quarantined off the Japanese city of Yokohama due to an onboard outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), was admitted to hospital in Japan on Friday with the deadly virus, according to his son.

The man's son, whose identity is not being disclosed due to privacy protection issues, told CNA via a social media platform Friday that he was informed earlier in the day of the latest developments regarding his father.

His pleas for help were answered, the son said, expressing thanks to those who assisted in obtaining medical care for his father.

On Feb. 11, the son told CNA in a phone call that he had written to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) the previous day about his 85-year-old father, who was confined to a windowless cabin on the cruise ship, was suffering nosebleeds and coughing up blood but was receiving no medical attention.

The son said he also contacted Taiwan representatives in Japan on Feb. 10 to tell them about his father. On Feb. 11, a doctor visited the 85-year-old man on the ship, and after he was later diagnosed with the COVID-19, he was taken to a hospital in Japan, according to the son.

The father and son embarked Jan. 20 on the 15-day round-trip cruise tour that set sail from Yokohama and was scheduled to return there on Feb. 4 after making port calls in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Okinawa, Japan.

However, on Feb. 2 an 80-year-old passenger, who had disembarked in Hong Kong, was confirmed to have the coronavirus, and the cruise liner returned to Yokohama one day ahead of schedule.

Since then, the Diamond Princess has been quarantined off Yokohama with some 3,700 people on board, 218 of whom have tested positive for the new virus, according to data from Japan's Department of Health, valid as of Friday.

Photo by Kyodo News
Photo by Kyodo News

The infected passengers have been taken off the ship and admitted to hospitals in Japan, while elderly people with chronic diseases were allowed on Thursday to disembark and stay in designated lodgings, once they tested negative for the coronavirus, the Japanese government said.

The other people on the ship are required to remain in their cabins until the quarantine period ends on Feb. 19, the government said.

On Friday the son of the 85-year-old Taiwanese patient told CNA that they had no choice but to accept their fate.

"It's not our choice to be confined to a cabin and quarantined in a way that could make us sick," he said.

The man said he was grateful for the assistance he and his father had received from the Taiwan representative office in Japan and the Taiwan government and for the support of the other passengers on the ship.

Since the COVID-19 surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, the virus has caused more than 65,000 infections and 1,300 deaths worldwide, mainly in China.

As of Friday, the number of confirmed cases in Taiwan was 18.

(By Jay Chou and Elizabeth Hsu)

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