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28 days later: The Irish band quarantined on cruise liner with hundreds of infected staff

Joe Juncker (28) has been stuck aboard the Ruby Diamond cruise ship for the last month.

The band with Joe Juncker second from the left.
The band with Joe Juncker second from the left.
Image: Joe Juncker

A MEMBER OF an Irish band stuck on a cruise ship due to the coronavirus outbreak has described how he has been in lockdown for the last 28 days, quarantined in one room as he waits to be released. 

Joe Juncker (28) has been stuck aboard the Ruby Princess cruise ship for the last month. 

He and his three bandmates were hired to play as part of the ship’s entertainment services. However, since the outbreak of the virus, he has been quarantined inside one of the cabin rooms.

The only human contact he receives is when someone arrives to check his temperature. 

About 2,700 passengers disembarked from the ship on 19 March in Sydney and it has since become the largest source of coronavirus infections in Australia.

More than 600 cases of Covid-19 and 15 deaths are linked the to the ship.

Joe described how he and the rest of the staff were quarantined shortly after the passengers disembarked.

He said he and his friends were kept in the dark as more and more people aboard the vessel became ill with the virus. 

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Joe said: “We’ve been on the ship since 5 December – myself and my band mates in Emerald Tide. We had been having a blast playing music, honestly the best gigs we’ve ever done. 

“On the 19th, we came back and the ship disembarked all the guests. The next day someone aboard the ship was tested and it came back positive. A day after that one of my mates was getting the symptoms and we were all quarantined and we’ve been here since. 

“We’re here 28 days later. We’re only now starting to get some see some progress. All the ship members are getting tested over the next 48 hours. At the start of this, we were out floating on the ocean. We only have three doctors and three nurses on board the ship. 

“We’re in quarantine for a month. We weren’t getting any info from anybody. There was nothing happening.

“You’re stuck in your room – I mean I haven’t had a face-to-face conversation with a  human for about a month. They docked us finally and since then there was sporadic testing.” 

Joe described how it became more worrying as more and more of the staff were being infected. 

“Last week, only 250 crew have been tested for Covid-19 and 140 have tested positive. We have had no information about when we will be allowed to leave our rooms, the ship or be repatriated home. We are stuck in the middle of a political blame game because of the disembarkation of all our guests on the 19 March and subsequent release of the virus into Australia.

“We are tired worried and want to go home.”

Last week, police wearing protective gear boarded the cruise ship to seize evidence and question crew members of the vessel.

New South Wales police, which boarded the ship at Port Kembla, south of Sydney, said it was expected to remain in port for 10 days with its 1,040 crew undergoing medical assessments.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been liaising with Joe and his bandmates and are in the process of helping get them home.

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