A Chennai man has also been deboarded from the ship and taken to a facility in Alexandria after he showed symptoms of novel coronavirus.

We are confined to cabins TN tourist quarantined on Egypt ship speaks to TNM
news Coronavirus Monday, March 09, 2020 - 14:24

A dream holiday for 63-year-old Vanitha Rengaraj and her husband, Rengaraj (67) in Egypt has turned out to be a nightmare as they now have to spend 15 more days inside the small confines of a cruise ship cabin. Hours before they were about to step out of the cruise ship and board a plane back to India, they were asked to stay back along with other passengers in quarantine after some passengers tested positive for coronavirus 

Vanitha and Rengaraj are among the 17 Indian tourists in the tour group which started from India on February 29 on a week’s tour to Egypt. Their tour included sightseeing at Cairo and a cruise on the Nile river, which ended on the night of March 6. The cruise ship, A Sara, which was operated on the Nile cruise with 171 persons including the crew on board has come under the spotlight after 45 persons — 33 passengers and 12 crew members — tested positive for novel coronavirus recently. A tourist from Chennai has also been taken to a facility in Alexandria after he showed symptoms of novel coronavirus. 

Speaking to TNM from the ship, Vanitha Rengaraj says that when the couple left for the tour, things were normal in Egypt. “We were tracking it and also confirmed it with multiple sources. There was no news about a coronavirus outbreak in Egypt. In fact, till the night of March 6, there were no problems on the ship,” she explains. On the night of March 6, hours before they were supposed to disembark and board a plane back to India, an announcement was made on the ship that the passengers were being quarantined for 15 days to prevent coronavirus infection. 

“We have been asked to stay inside our rooms and not venture outside. There is a doctor inside the ship all the time and a few nurses. They (officials) have also briefed us on what to do if we have symptoms like vomiting, fever, etc.,” she says. 

After the quarantined Indians requested for hygienic food to be provided to them aboard the ship, the Embassy on Sunday has reportedly intervened and ensured sufficient food and water to the passengers. 

Saranya Rengaraj, Vanitha and Rengaraj’s daughter told TNM that since the ship was already inhabited by those with infection, it is not clear how safe the environment is for those who have been quarantined. 

“Firstly, they (passengers in quarantine) are finding it difficult to be confined in such a small place for 15 days. Second point is that the ship was already inhabited by infected people, so I don’t get the point of confining healthy people in the same surroundings and hoping they don’t get infected,” she said. Adding that it is unclear how much of a disinfecting process would have been done on the ship after the infected passengers were deboarded, Saranya said that it would be great if the remaining healthy passengers are moved to another facility outside the ship. 

According to a report from the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 1 lakh people have been tested positive for novel coronavirus globally. Egypt has 48 confirmed cases of coronavirus as on Sunday morning. 

Notably, another cruise ship which was anchored at Yokohama last month initially had 140 confirmed cases of coronavirus. However, insufficient protocols led to the death of eight people and infection of over 700 people who were isolated and quarantined on the ship.

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