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Diamond Princess cruise passenger speaks out on coronavirus quarantine: 'It's heartbreaking'

Markets may be shedding coronavirus concerns, but fears remain all too real for the roughly 3,700 people stuck a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan.

The passengers and crew on board the Carnival (CCL )-owned Diamond Princess were placed under a mandatory two-week quarantine, after 10 passengers tested positive for the fast-spreading coronavirus. More than a week later, 175 people are confirmed to have the virus.

“It's obviously been trying and challenging,” Sarah Arana, one Diamond Princess passenger told Yahoo Finance. The Paso Robles, California resident, who is traveling solo, has been confined mostly to her cabin.

“I think for most people, it's just sort of been one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time,” said Arana.

“Every time we get a report of more positive tests that have come back, it's a bit heartbreaking,” she added.

With over 45,000 cases confirmed globally, the move by Japanese Ministry of Health to dock the ship in Yokohama comes as health officials around the world are scrambling to stop the spread of the coronavirus, labeled COVID-19.

While the ship’s crew has been providing regular updates, Arana said the speed at which passengers are being given information is slow and can “be a little bit frustrating.”

Arana added: “We can see a lot of things going on but we don't know what's happening.”

175 cases of coronavirus confirmed of the roughly 3,7000 passengers and crew members onboard
175 cases of coronavirus confirmed of the roughly 3,7000 passengers and crew members onboard

The coronavirus toll has officially exceeded the death toll from the deadly SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2002. As of Wednesday, more than 1,100 people have died from the virus in mainland China, where the virus originated.

While 175 cases on the docked ship have been tested and confirmed through medical professionals, passengers have been encouraged to monitor their own health on a day-to-day basis. They have been issued thermometers in order to self-report if they have elevated temperature.

“They're pretty much testing every day, but they're not testing someone unless they actually have a fever,” said Arana. Yet the test is “not accurate unless you are actually having symptoms.”

The 14-day quarantine is set to end on Feb. 19. Any passengers that have not been re-exposed to the virus during this period are being “reassured daily” that they will be able to disembark at that time “unless something changes,” said Arana.

Carnival’s stock, which has swooned amid fears over the coronavirus’ impact on the travel and leisure sector, finished Wednesday’s trading over 2% higher on the day at $44.06.

Sarah Smith is a Segment Producer/Booker at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahasmith

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