Coronavirus outbreak: Isolated on luxury liner for 3 weeks, 122 Indian crew members return today

Ravik Bhattacharya
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The Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama. (AP)

Three weeks since they were quarantined on a luxury cruise off Yokohama port in Japan after a person who disembarked in Hong Kong in January was diagnosed with coronavirus, the 122 Indian crew members on board have disembarked and are likely to be flown back on Thursday.

According to one crew member, a resident of West Bengal, they will be flown to Delhi by a special flight by 5 am Thursday and quarantined for 14 more days.

The 30-year-old, who belongs to Uttar Dinajpur district had earlier put up videos on social media, reaching out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and urging them to get the Japanese government to separately quarantine those infected and uninfected on board the Diamond Princess.

“The Indian Embassy in Tokyo and our company were trying to get us back, and last week we underwent tests. Recently, the test results came negative and showed that we are uninfected,” the 30-year-old said through WhatsApp. “Around 1 pm local time, 122 Indian crew, including me, disembarked and got into six buses at Yokohama port. We are being taken to Tokyo (Henada) airport.”

“We have been told that we will be kept in quarantine at a special facility for 14 more days and will undergo tests. Thereafter, we can return home,” he said.

Speaking to The Indian Express from Siliguri, the crew member’s brother said, “We are so happy that my brother is finally returning, and will be home in a few days. I spoke with him today. We will not go to Delhi since we will not be allowed to meet him — we will wait for his return home.”