Details from The B.C. Catholic:
The morning routine hasn’t changed for Marichu and Ding Camales-Torrijos since they and all other passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise were quarantined following discovery of the coronavirus on board.
The couple have breakfast delivered by mask-wearing cruise staff, they listen to live updates from the captain about the spread of the virus, they send online messages to family and friends, and they pray.
“We start the day with prayer thanking God that we are symptom-free,” Marichu told The B.C. Catholic Feb. 13. The couple, parishioners at St. Matthew’s in Surrey, boarded the ship for a Southeast Asia cruise 26 days earlier. It was a gift to Ding ahead of his 65th birthday.
They made stops in Vietnam, Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong, when on the last day of the trip a case of the coronavirus, also called COVID-19, was discovered on board. The ship was placed on quarantine, docked in Yokohama, Japan, and anchored for the next two weeks. The couple don’t expect to leave the ship until Feb. 19.
At press time, 44 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on board, bringing the total number of infected individuals to 218 of the roughly 3,700 cruise passengers and crew.
“We are taking this in stride on a day-to-day basis,” said Marichu.
During the quarantine, the couple are confined to their 200-square-foot cabin with no balcony. They must wear masks when their meals are delivered and during the single hour a day they are allowed (according to a schedule announced daily by the captain) to walk outside. The rest of the time they stay inside, praying, sending messages to other passengers through online chat groups, and trying to stay positive.
Marichu isn’t aware of any Catholic priests on board the Diamond Princess, but as a lector, extraordinary minister, and member of Couples for Christ at St. Matthew’s, she is trying to minister to her fellow travelers by offering an optimistic outlook.
When a fellow passenger in his 80s was taken off the ship and sent to hospital for treatment, Marichu reached out to his wife who remained on board. Through online messages she tried to provide comfort and encouragement.
“Without faith, I don’t think I would last this long,” said Marichu.
The article goes on to note that travelers have received a special dispensation:
The following are not obligated to attend Holy Mass during the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus:
1) Those members of the faithful who feel unwell, show respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, difficulty in breathing, or fever
2) Those who have been to regions affected by the Novel Coronavirus Infection within 14 days
3) Those who have in contact with friends and family members suspected to be infected
Must practice other forms of piety for an hour, e.g., reading the Sacred Scriptures, saying the rosary, reciting for the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and making spiritual communion. Faithful are encouraged to make acts of sacrifice and penance for those who are sick with the Coronavirus, and those who have died from it, as the Church comes in unison to pray for each other.
May God have mercy.