The plight of cruise ship passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship has just gotten considerably worse after the number of cases of passengers ill with coronavirus nearly doubled.
NPR.org reports that 45 Japanese and 11 Americans were diagnosed with coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 135.
According to the NPR report the Diamond Princess coronavirus contagion is is the largest cluster of coronavirus cases outside of mainland China. In addition to citizens of Japan and the U.S., the contagion has affected people from Australia, Canada, England, the Philippines, and Ukraine.
Researchers have long known that cruise ships combine a unique set of factors, including serving as a mode of both lodging and transportation. This requires passengers to move within a relatively confined area much of the time, increasing the likelihood of illness transmission. Several months ago we blogged about an infectious disease expert who said she and her family would never go on a cruise due to the risk of illness transmission. Some have even called for cruise ships to be banned.
Hickey Law Firm’s lead trial lawyer, John H. (Jack) Hickey states:
The fact is that every country has quarantine laws, including Japan where the Diamond Princess is located. Japan like any country has said that the inherent power of the government acting in the best interests of its citizens can quarantine a ship when there is an outbreak of certain diseases or conditions. Influenza usually is one of the accepted conditions at least in the US (where quarantine laws are found in Titles 8 and 42 of the US Code and administered by the CDC).
For a summary of the quarantine laws of Japan click here.
The Japanese have the right to quarantine. The cruise line- when the Diamond Princess is in Japanese waters- has the obligation to abide by Japanese law.
The cruise line also has the obligation under the maritime law to act reasonably under the circumstances. Princess Cruise Line has enormous resources. Princess Cruise Line is owned by Carnival Corporation which is a multi billion dollar concern. (Carnival Corporation also owns Costa Crocieri sPa which operated the Costa Concordia which sank off the coast of Italy on January 13, 2012 and killed 32 people. Carnival Corporation also is a convicted felon in the Southern District of Florida and is on probation for its environmental record – illegal polluting of waters and lying about the discharge off of its ships). And Carnival Corporation operates the Carnival Triumph, recently renamed the Carnival Sunrise, the ship which on February 10, 2013 became “the poop cruise.” That was a situation where an engine room fire killed all of the power on the ship. Rather than get the passengers off the ship in Cancun or Progresso Mexico and fly them home or back to Galveston, Carnival chose to have the ship towed across the Gulf of Mexico for 5 days… with all of its passengers trapped onboard. The loss of power caused the toilets to back up and exposed thousands of passengers to raw sewage.
These companies need to (1) get these passengers the medications and food and water they need for their daily lives; (2) provide prompt and proper medical treatment for those who are sick with corona virus or anything else; (3) isolate onboard those who are sick from those who are not sick; (4) work with the Japanese authorities to get both the sick and not sick off that ship ASAP and to a place where the sick can be quarantined and treated well. Everyone else needs to be tested and provided transport back home.
The cruise line should not be able to throw up its hands and say that the authorities in Japan have directed the ship to be quarantined so what can the cruise line do. The cruise line has obligations, duties, to its passengers. And time is wasting.