Aussie family forced to stay on coronavirus cruise ship after 11th-hour twist

·4-min read

An Australian family preparing to leave the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise and board a flight to Darwin have received the 11th-hour news that one of them returned a positive result for coronavirus.

Instead of joining close to 200 Australians who spent more than two weeks quarantined in Yokohama on an overnight flight to the Northern Territory, the Melbourne family of four will remain in Japan.

Mum Aun Na Tan revealed the news in a post to social media, explaining it was as they were pushing their bags out of their cabin that they were told their 16-year-old daughter Kaitlyn’s test from Monday was positive.

“We will not be taking the flight tonight. Our family will stay together,” one of her posts read.

Melbourne mum Aun Na Tan with her family on the cruise ship they were quarantined on after coronavirus outbreak.
Jeff, Aun Na and their kids, Xander and Kaitlyn, will remain in Japan after the daughter tested positive for coronavirus. Source: Instagram/happy_girls_r_the_prettiest

In a later update on their 15th day of quarantine, the mum explained the rest of the family had negatively tested for the virus and despite being told one adult had to stay with Kaitlyn, they decided to stick together.

Staff are now working to find a hospital that can take the four of them, so Kaitlyn can be maintained separately and the other three can begin another 14 days of quarantine.

Ms Tan revealed “it wasn’t a pretty sight” for herself and Kaitlyn when they first heard the news, but they had since “bounced back”.

“Kaitlyn much quicker than myself – to our merry selves,” she wrote.

Despite her diagnosis, the teenager hasn’t had any symptoms.

“Kaitlyn is healthy. We are all healthy – we will get though this and be back home soon.”

The daughter was one of 10 Australians to be told they tested positive to the deadly virus just hours before they were due to board the plane back to Australia, Nine News reported.

Fifteen Australians chose to stay in Japan with family infected by the disease instead of flying overnight on a Qantas flight from Tokyo to Darwin with the 180 people who were taken to a former workers' camp.

“No passengers will board the plane if they have any symptoms of the coronavirus or test positive, obviously, to the coronavirus,” Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said in Sydney on Wednesday.

The evacuees will be screened for symptoms five times before beginning another 14-day isolation period at the Howard Springs site.

Diamond Princess passengers who tested negative for the virus were due to disembark the cruise overnight.
Passengers who tested negative for the virus were due to disembark the cruise overnight. Source: AAP

Mr Tudge said there were 542 cases on the ship, with 88 new cases including 36 Australians – all are being treated in hospital in Japan.

Australia's deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said while the ship's quarantine methods had worked to protect the rest of Japan, the recent spike in cases could come down to crew falling ill.

“It just demonstrates the infectiousness of this particular virus and how it can spread very easily in a closed setting like a cruise ship,” he said in Sydney.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he understood the frustration of people stuck on the ship.

“We want to get them home to their families as soon as possible,” he said in Adelaide on Wednesday.

The evacuees, who are mainly elderly, will have continuous access to medical assistance at the quarantine facility.

They will be kept separate from hundreds of people already in isolation at the facility, who were evacuated from the Chinese epicentre of the virus at Wuhan.

Qantas plane for Australian citizens evacuated from the cruise ship at Tokyo's Haneda airport.
Qantas plane for Australian citizens evacuated from the cruise ship at Tokyo's Haneda airport on Wednesday. Source: AAP

Cabin crew of the Qantas flight will be subject to two weeks of home quarantine after returning from the rescue mission.

Meanwhile, the 36 evacuees remaining on Christmas Island left on Wednesday morning bound for their Australian home cities after most of the quarantined group returned to the mainland on Monday.

The facility will be readied for the possibility of more Australians facing the two-week isolation period.

Island administrator Natasha Griggs tweeted her thanks to those involved in the operation.

“Job well done! I couldn't be a more prouder Australian,” she wrote.

There have been 15 cases of the virus in Australia, with eight people now recovered and the rest in a stable condition.

There are now more than 75,000 cases worldwide, with 2009 reported deaths.

With AAP

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