Two Kiwis trapped on a coronavirus-quarantined ship near Japan are appealing to the Government with a simple message: "Save us!"
By Breanna Barraclough and Andrew Macfarlane
Auckland couple James and Lulu, who asked for their surnames not to be used, were on the Diamond Princess cruise when a passenger was diagnosed with novel coronavirus, forcing the ship into lockdown.
They spent their days locked and isolated in their rooms, with scheduled "outdoor time" on the outdoor deck.
In an exclusive interview with 1 NEWS today, they shared an impassioned message to the Government.
"We just really want to get out of this and get home," James says.
As more people get diagnosed with the disease - up to 136 from the cruise, and more than 42,000 worldwide now - the couple are worried the quarantine period may get extended.
They check themselves for symptoms multiple times a day, including taking their temperatures, and are staying far away from other passengers even on their outdoor time.
After the Government successfully evacuated 98 New Zealanders from virus-stricken Wuhan, also in lockdown, earlier this month, the pair are hopeful something similar could be done to free the 11 Kiwis on board the Diamond Princess.
"We will feel much safer back home than overseas and now the biggest fear is if one of us has been diagnosed with the virus, they might separate us, and we don't want to be separated," Lulu says.
"That would be our biggest fear."
Two New Zealanders are currently in hospital in Japan diagnosed with the coronavirus, the first Kiwis to be confirmed ill with the disease.
Quarantine on the Diamond Princess is currently set to end on February 19, but Lulu and James are concerned it could be extended without warning.
"We haven't actually been told anything, it's got us a bit nervous," James says.
"We're still hoping we can get off on the 19th at the end of quarantine. There's no official talk about extension but we've seen a couple of media articles that might mention that."
Earlier today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ruled out the possibility of an evacuation for the stuck Kiwis.
"We’re just not in a position to assist people, breaking people out of quarantine," she told media.
She says countries need to be able to uphold their quarantine measures and if they weren't in quarantine on the boat, they would still need to be quarantined somewhere.
The people evacuated from Wuhan are currently quarantined at a Defence Force training facillity in Whangaparāoa as they wait out the contagion period for the coronavirus.
The disease has yet to reach New Zealand's shores.