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Florida couple remains quarantined on cruise ship while Japan evacuates high-risk passengers

Posted at 2:10 PM, Feb 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 11:58:42-05

JAPAN — As we track the growing number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and around the world, we have an update on a Crystal River couple under quarantine on a cruise ship near Japan.

The Japanese government announced that hundreds of high-risk passengers are being taken off the Diamond Princess to be quarantined elsewhere. But the local couple, in their 70s, are so far not among those passengers.

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Thursday begins day 10 of 14 under quarantine for thousands of passengers on board the ship.

The Japanese government announced Thursday an additional 44 cases of the coronavirus were contracted by passengers on board the ship. That brings the total to more than 200 cases of passengers contracting the coronavirus.

“The bottom line is, virus is spreading the numbers are going up every time, we hear 20, 30, 60, it’s overwhelming,” said Gay Courter, a woman from Crystal River quarantined on the ship.

The Japanese government is now allowing certain high-risk passengers, who tested negative for the virus, off the ship to be quarantined elsewhere.

“I don’t feel I’m safe here,” said Courter.

The Courters are not among those passengers because the criteria for getting off the ship is those over the age of 80.

“I’m 75, Phil’s 77, we have some preexisting conditions like diabetes and others, and we belong in the high-risk category,” said Courter.

Gay Courter is a diabetic and she says they’re having to get creative when it comes to getting her insulin.

“Where am I getting my insulin from? I’m expecting a FedEx package today from the folks at Tampa General Hospital who took it on themselves to take care of us,” said Courter.

Despite their dire situation on board, the Courters say it could be a lot worse.

“We have friends on board with children. Can you imagine nine days in a cabin with a 5-year-old?” she said.

They’re praising those who continue to serve passengers on the ship.

“The staff, the chefs, all are risking their lives,” said Courter.

And they hope the U.S. and Japanese governments can work together to find another solution.

“There has to be a better way to manage this. Take us to the military base. It’s right up the road here,” said Courter.

The Courters are expecting next Wednesday to be the final day of quarantine on board the ship.