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Arizona doctor among those stranded in Japan by outbreak

PHOENIX — An Arizona physician is among thousands of passengers quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

In a phone interview Monday with Phoenix radio station KTAR-FM, Dr. Sommer Gunia, a surgeon from Scottsdale, said she and her husband are passing the time in their room with playing cards and Soduku puzzles.

Meanwhile, crew members bring them food, water and ice.

“There’s people monitoring the hallways to make sure we don’t go outside,” Gunia said.

The couple have a balcony but neither sets foot on it without a surgical mask.

Gunia said she believes cruise officials are doing their best to work with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Japanese health officials. They’re also maintaining communication with passengers. Initially, it seemed like travelers were getting more information from the media than the cruise line.

“This is such a unique situation that I really think this is something that nobody is prepared for,” she said.

The 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess have been docked in Yokohama near Tokyo for the past week. Officials enforced the quarantine after a passenger on a previous voyage was diagnosed with the virus. So far, 135 cases of the virus have been confirmed on the ship. Sixty-five of those were discovered Monday. Japanese health officials have been considering testing all of those aboard.

Gunia said neither she nor her husband has experienced any symptoms. They were told the quarantine would end Feb. 19.

The respiratory illness, which originated in China, has infected more than 43,000 people worldwide. It has killed more than 1,000 people. Most of the deaths have been in China’s central Hubei province.



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