This Article is From Feb 13, 2020

Indian Officer, Isolated On Ship Quarantined Off Japan, Sends An SOS

Sonali Thakkar, a security officer on the ship, asked the centre to take them back home or at least send some medical experts along to expedite the coronavirus tests.

Sonali Thakkar said she was alarmed by the rising coronavirus cases aboard the ship.


Even as the number of coronavirus cases on the Diamond Princess climbed to 175, an Indian security officer aboard the quarantined British cruise ship sent out yet another appeal for help to the Indian government on Wednesday.

Sonali Thakkar was placed in isolation on Monday, a week after the ship docked at Yokohoma on February 3. "We are scared that if the infection is spreading, it is spreading so fast that we could also become one of them. We don't want to. We just want to go back home," she said.

The 24-year-old officer's interview with NDTV came even as the Diamond Princess reported 39 new coronavirus cases. And as the situation on the cruise ship worsened, compounded by the delay in getting back results on coronavirus tests being performed on passengers, she sent out yet another appeal to the Indian authorities.

"We want the Indian government to take us back to India and isolate us there. Or at least send some more medical staffers across to help these people with the tests. We want to go home," Ms Thakkar said.

The 160 Indian crew members aboard the Diamond Princess had sought assistance from the Indian government on earlier occasions too. A few days ago, Binay Kumar Sarkar -- a chef from north Bengal -- had gone on social media to appeal to the Indian government for help.

"Please somehow save us as soon as possible. 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," he said.

The Indian Embassy in Tokyo responded with an assurance that it is "constantly monitoring" the situation.

The ship was quarantined with almost 3,700 passengers and crew members aboard on February 3. 

Ms Thakkar told NDTV that she has already informed her friends and family in Mumbai about her situation. "They are really worried about me, they just want me to get back home. They are praying day and night for me, and that's all they can do from their side," she said. "And I just want to tell (my parents) to stay strong, stay positive. Your girl is going to be back soon."