News National More virus cases confirmed on ship, as quarantined passengers reveal how they pass time
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More virus cases confirmed on ship, as quarantined passengers reveal how they pass time

Matthew Smith has been tweeting about life in quarantine on board the cruise ship.
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A passenger locked in his room on board a coronavirus-contaminated cruise ship has taken to writing and publishing funny reviews of the cabin meals that break up the monotony of quarantine.

It’s just one of the ways Matthew Smith is passing the time cooped up on the Diamond Princess off the coast of Japan.

“While the conditions inside the cabins are not equivalent to a prison cell, it is akin to that in the sense that you are stuck inside,” Mr Smith told The New Daily. 

“I’ve just tried to accept that it’s out of my control, so I’m not going to let it upset me.”

As of Monday morning another six people on the ship quarantined near Yokohama have tested positive for coronavirus. It brings the total number of people infected on the vessel to 70 – but that number is expected to rise, with many yet to receive their results.

Meanwhile, overnight thousands of people stuck on another cruise ship were being allowed to disembark after almost a week in quarantine near Hong Kong.

The 3600 passengers and crew on the World Dream were quarantined amid fears workers on board might have contracted the virus on a previous voyage. All 1800 crew members were tested and results have come back negative.

cruise ship passengers
Passengers wave to crew as they disembark from the World Dream in Hong Kong. Photo: Getty

There’s no sign of relief for passengers on board Diamond Princess.

Twenty people on Diamond Princess had already tested positive to the deadly virus before Japanese authorities confirmed a further 41 positive tests on Friday.

Five Australians on board have contracted coronavirus.

The remainder of the 3700 passengers and crew were still waiting for test results. They include more than 200 Australians.

Mr Smith and wife Katherine Codekas have revealed what life has been like since quarantine began on Wednesday, stressing they considered themselves the lucky ones because they have a window.

Other passengers get fresh air only if they are allowed out for a walk – under strict instructions to stay two metres apart.

“The people in the interior cabins have no windows … with no fresh air, except maybe a stroll on the deck every three or four days, then it’s back in your hole,” he said.

Ms Codekas said if you wanted to get an idea of what those people in interior cabins would be going through, you should “lock yourself in your bathroom”.

cruise ship coronavirus
Health officials in the near-deserted corridors of the Diamond Princess. Photo: Twitter

Passengers in different sections of the ship are allowed out in groups to walk around on the deck, standing at least two metres apart, for 90 minutes before returning to their cabins, Mr Smith said.

The couple, both family lawyers from California, is among thousands holed up on board the ship on which coronavirus has spread.

Mr Smith and Ms Codekas were just one day from disembarking after enjoying a pleasure cruise around Vietnam when they were suddenly placed in lockdown.

Katherine Codekas and Matthew Smith on holiday.

Passengers and crew have another 10 days of quarantine to go before they can be released.

Supplies have been sent to the ship and meals are delivered to rooms by staff in masks and gloves.

Passengers can request fresh towels or toilet paper by paging their room steward.

Some smokers have requested nicotine to help get them through their enforced smoke-free days.

Isolated from everyone else on board, Mr Smith has embraced the internet as his only way of connecting to the outside world.

His posts on Twitter include cheeky reviews of cabin meals, updates of life in quarantine, and handy tips for other passengers to get more coffee delivered to their cabin.

In just three days, his number of Twitter followers skyrocketed from 14 to more than 3000.

But Mr Smith said his posts aren’t just about making people smile. It’s about spreading the truth of life on board.

“One passenger was posting that we were denied food for 18 hours because authorities were afraid the virus was being spread from the food, but there was absolutely no basis for that comment,” he said.

“Another couple posted a video saying ‘We’re not safe here, help us’ and I started thinking, this is not right.

“I went into my Twitter account because I wanted to tell people what was going on, that we’re getting really good food.

I have nothing but praise for the crew – they’re stuck in a situation they have no precedent for and they’ve had to develop procedures on the fly.’’

The ship’s captain makes several announcements a day over a loudspeaker giving passengers the latest updates from health officials, he said.

But information is still scarce.

Some passengers on board have taken to social media to request more details.

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