An Indian crew member aboard cruise ship Diamond Princess, which has been quarantined off Japan since February 5 because of fears of novel coronavirus infection, on Monday appealed to the Indian government and the United Nations to rescue them and bring them back to the country.
Binay Kumar Sarkar, a 31-year-old chef from North Dinajpur district of West Bengal, uploaded a video on Facebook, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government for help. “Please somehow save us as soon as possible,” Sarkar appealed. “What’s the point if something happens [to us]?...I want to tell the government of India, Modi ji, please segregate us and bring us back home safely.” On Friday, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar had said the government was closely monitoring the situation.
Pointing to some of his colleagues standing by his side, Sarkar said “none of them have been checked [for coronavirus]”. He added that urgent action would save those who had not been infected yet.
According to The New Indian Express, there are 132 Indian crew members and six Indian passengers onboard the cruise ship. Reports said more than 3,700 people were believed to have been isolated. The chef said 66 people had been diagnosed with coronavirus on Monday, bringing the number of infected people on board to 137.
After he first uploaded a video last week, a team from the Indian embassy in Japan met Sarkar and promised to help. ‘The team from the Indian embassy came to meet me and assured me of all necessary help,” the chief told the newspaper over phone on Sunday. “A medical team has been posted at the cruise liner. I am grateful to the governments for the initiatives that have been taken [so far]...”
Sarkar’s family is worried about him and appealed to the Mamata Banerjee government to help. “He is staying among coronavirus victims,” the chef’s father Chandi Sarkar told The New Indian Express. “My son told me that the passengers started falling victims of coronavirus after the ship started from Hong Kong on January 25. Those who have been detected with coronavirus have not been kept in isolation wards. I urge to the state government to initiate all efforts to bring my son back.”
So far, the virus has killed 908 people in China, and 910 worldwide. Of the more than 40,000 infections in the country, almost 30,000 occurred in Hubei province. The virus is believed to have originated in a live seafood market in the province’s city of Wuhan. As many as 91 of the deaths have been reported from Hubei.
The novel coronavirus causes respiratory illness, and is similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which had also emerged from China in 2002. SARS killed 774 people around the world. Its symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.