Health and Science

'It's terrifying' — two quarantined passengers say they haven't been tested for coronavirus yet

Key Points
  • "Those numbers that we hear from the captain over the loud speaker are terrifying, especially with that exponential curve going up just like in China," Diamond Princess guest Gay Courter said.
  • She said many passengers aboard the ship, including her husband Phil and herself, haven't been tested for the deadly virus outside of initial temperature taking.
  • "We take our temperature once a day, voluntarily," Phil Courter said. "There's nobody checking on anybody."
VIDEO5:3605:36
'This whole thing has failed'—Cruise ship passengers call for an end to quarantine

Two passengers aboard the quarantined Princess Cruises ship that's docked in Japan told CNBC on Wednesday that containment measures to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading have failed.

"[Japanese government officials] are letting some people who they claim are the most elderly and vulnerable off the ship," said Gay Courter, who's being held on the Diamond Princess with her husband, Phil. "But they do it behind plastic wrap and fire engines so the press can't see. It is proof that this whole thing has failed."

The Carnival-owned company last week placed 3,700 passengers and crew under a two-week mandatory quarantine after 10 passengers tested positive for the fast-spreading virus. It's a move required by the Japanese Ministry of Health. Since then, a total of 175 people, including a quarantine officer, were confirmed to have the virus.

"Those numbers that we hear from the captain over the loud speaker are terrifying, especially with that exponential curve going up just like in China," Gay Courter said on "Squawk Box."

China's National Health Commission said Wednesday that there were 2,015 confirmed new cases on the mainland and 97 additional deaths related to the new, deadly strain of coronavirus, most of them occurring in Hubei province. The Chinese government said overnight that a total of 44,653 cases have been confirmed and 1,113 people have died in the country.

She said many passengers aboard the ship, including her husband and herself, haven't been tested for the deadly virus outside of initial temperature taking.

"We take our temperature once a day, voluntarily," Phil Courter said. "We are supposed to call if our temperature goes higher than the standard they've set. But that's voluntary, there's nobody checking on anybody."

"Frankly, it's terrifying," he added.

A spokesperson for Princess Cruises was not immediately available for comment.

The World Health Organization said there's been more than 150 coronavirus cases in about two dozen countries outside of China and declared the virus a global health emergency.

Officials on the ship have arranged for short periods of time that passengers can go on the ship's deck to get fresh air and exercise, though Phil Courter said the pair haven't "taken advantage of that" since they have a balcony in their room.

The ship is expected to remain under quarantine until Feb. 19, though the Courters believe they'll be held longer.

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Cruise ship passenger on being quarantined for coronavirus

Matthew Smith, who's under quarantine with his wife Katherine, told CNBC on Monday that he's "maintaining his confidence" that they'll be able to depart next Wednesday.

"Imagine being trapped in your bathroom," said Smith, explaining what life is like for some passengers over the last few days.

Though Smith said the ship's crew comes by at least three times a day for meals and will occasionally deliver medication, bottled water and fresh towels.

"I give Princess and the captain of this vessel an A plus-plus on their response on this," he added. "They faced a situation that I expect they had no plans for."

The cruise line has offered passengers refunds for their trips and will be offered another cruise in the future, but Phil Courter said "it'll be a while" before they take another cruise.

"We've kicked it around," he said. They added that the Princess offer was more than fair, but they feel for people who are losing a lot of money because of missed work and paying for child-care costs for kids at home.

David Abel, who's also being held on the Diamond Princess, said in a video aired on CNBC last week that he's been leading a private Facebook group for his fellow passengers in an effort to "let off steam" and cheer each other up. He's also been posting daily Facebook Live videos, while the ship provides guests with complimentary internet and phone service.

"Those passengers who are on the inside cabins: they've got no windows to look out of, there's no daylight, natural light and they can't take a walk down a corridor. It's strict confinement to cabins for all passengers," Abel said in describing the scene from inside. "But the captain has announced that people on the inside cabins are going to be allowed access onto the open deck for exercise and fresh air."

Before the quarantine took effect, a previous guest who did not have any symptoms while onboard had tested positive for the virus on Saturday, six days after leaving the cruise ship.

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Princess Cruise guest reveals life inside coronavirus-quarantined ship