An East Tennessee couple was just about to leave quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan when the woman tested positive for the Coronavirus.
Jeannie and Dr. Arnold Hopland told WJHL NewsChannel 11 that they were quarantined on the ship for almost two weeks. As they were preparing to leave their room on the cruise ship, Japanese health officials told them Jeannie tested positive for the virus.
"God's in control and we'll be okay. We really will. You know- the shock is saying 'Oh no, what am I going to do all by myself with the language problem," said Jeanie.
The couple was expected to board a plane headed back to the U.S.
"He says we're not going to be able to take you on the plane because Jeannie has been tested positive for Coronavirus," said Arnold.
Their luggage had already been taken, which left them with nothing but the clothes on their backs, identification and cell phones. Dr. hopland said he's been pushing for the U.S. and Japanese governments to step in and provide a proper quarantine.
"This ship cannot maintain quarantine. It's not designed for that purpose. There are many many flaws in the quarantine on the ship," said Arnold. "There are about three times as many U.S. Citizens infected with the disease on this one boat as there are in the entire United States"
They say their room stewardess was diagnosed with the virus just a few days ago and the ship's staff is not properly trained for this situation and are remaining in tight quarters themselves.
For the past few weeks their son, Dr. Kenny Hopland has been working with Congressman Phil Roe to get them and other Americans back home.
"There was a lot of frustration and anger having been trying our best for about a week and a half to get what's being done today accomplished. And then to find out that well everybody else is going home but they're staying is a 'dang it," said Kenny.
He hopes his parents can stay together and that his dad can stay healthy.
"I am hopeful if they can keep them together. Hopefully she will not develop severe symptoms. Now, there is that hope that my father does not become positive.That certainly is very likely," Kenny said.
The Hoplands say they are waiting for their next steps which haven't been clearly communicated to them.
"I think I'm going to be in quarantine on the boat for two more weeks because I'm still under control of the Japanese authorities. I'm disappointed that the United States didn't take charge on this," said Arnold.
The future for the Hoplands is unknown right now. Jeannie says she expects to be sent to a hospital on the shore while Dr. Hopland believes he will remain under quarantine on the boar for the next two weeks. From what has been communicated, they believe the next opportunity for them to come home will be late March.