BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A couple from Massachusetts, who are under quarantine on a cruise ship at a Japanese port, said they are living "better than a lot of passengers" who have not had any fresh air in days.
Jackie and Ricky Kineavy-Bowes of Massachusetts are currently being quarantined on a Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, amid a Coronavirus outbreak onboard.
The ship was put under quarantine in late January after it was discovered that a man who had disembarked days earlier in Hong Kong had tested positive for the Coronavirus. So far, nearly 300 people from the ship have tested positive for the virus, and have been removed for further medical treatment.
In total, there are about 3,700 passengers and crew members living in isolation aboard the ship. More than 400 of them are Americans.
The Kineavy-Bowes' and the other passengers have been confined to their small cabin rooms for two weeks. The couple said they're glad they bought a deck of cards to pass the time. "We're in the middle of a Rummy 5,000 game now," Jackie Kineavy-Bowes said. "It's just a terrible situation that just fell on all of us."
They said they're also grateful to be some of the lucky passengers who get access to sunshine and fresh air. "We've got it better than a lot of passengers because we have a balcony," Ricky Bowes said. "We have access to the outside." He said that some passengers have not seen the sun in several days.
While hundreds of people remain stuck on the ship with no windows, one couple from Australia even managed to get wine delivered to their balcony by drones.
On Feb. 8, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo emailed a letter assuring Americans on board that "remaining in your room on the ship is the safest option to minimize your risk of infection." Initially, all passengers were going to leave the ship on Wednesday, Feb. 19 when the quarantine is scheduled to be lifted.
However, according to another letter sent by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo on Saturday Feb. 15, that calculus has changed.
After Japan's Health Minister announced on Saturday that another 67 people aboard the ship had tested positive for the Coronavirus, the U.S. government sent a letter announcing a plan to send two aircraft to evacuate all Americans from the cruise ship by Sunday night.
"The U.S. government recommends, out of an abundance of caution, that U.S. citizens disembark and return to the United States for further monitoring," the Feb. 15 Embassy letter said. "The Department of State, working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services... will provide a chartered aircraft to bring you directly from Japan to the United States."
After the U.S. evacuates roughly 400 Americans from the ship, according to the Feb. 15 letter from the Embassy, passengers "will need to undergo further quarantine of 14 days when you arrive in the United States."
The Kineavy-Bowes' said they are doing all they can to avoid catching the virus. "Three times a day, we monitor our temperature," Ricky Bowes said. "We've got our protective gear. We each have our own masks hanging at the door if anybody comes."
While there is no word from the Kineavy-Bowes' on whether they will choose to board the evacuation flights, the Embassy's letter states that passengers who "choose not to return on this charter flight" will be "unable to return to the United States for a period of time."
A correction has been made to the couple's last name to include Bowes.