The Princess Panic

I’ve never understood the attraction of paying a premium price for a vacation that’s based upon voluntarily confining yourself to a floating Petri dish for a few weeks.

Many others see it differently.

But a few share my perspective.

Diamond Princess is a British-registered cruise ship owned and operated by Princess Cruises.

She began operation in March 2004 and primarily cruises in Asia during the northern hemisphere summer and Australia during the southern hemisphere summer.

There have been two notable outbreaks of infectious disease on the ship – an outbreak of gastroenteritis caused by norovirus in 2016 and an outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus in 2020.

In the latter incident, the ship was quarantined for nearly a month with her passengers on board, and her passengers and crew were subject to further quarantine after disembarking.

At least 696 out of the 3,711 passengers and crew were infected, and 7 died.

The meteorological convention is to define summer as comprising the months of June, July, and August in the northern hemisphere and the months of December, January, and February in the southern hemisphere.

On 13 January 2012, the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground and overturned after striking an underwater rock off Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, resulting in 32 deaths.

The eight-year-old Costa Cruises vessel was on the first leg of a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea when she deviated from her planned route at the Isola del Giglio, sailed closer to the island, and struck a rock formation on the sea floor.

A six-hour rescue effort brought most of the passengers ashore.

And a few more came to understand my perspective when the Diamond Princess was “quarantined on 4 February 2020 in the Port of Yokohama”.

On 20 January 2020, an 80-year-old passenger from Hong Kong embarked in Yokohama, sailed one segment of the itinerary, and disembarked in Hong Kong on 25 January. He visited a local Hong Kong hospital, six days after leaving the ship, where he later tested positive for COVID-19 on 1 February.

On its next voyage, 4 February, the ship was in Japanese waters when 10 passengers were diagnosed with COVID-19 during the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak.

The ship was quarantined on 4 February 2020 in the Port of Yokohama in Japan.

As of 1 March, all on board including the crew and the captain had disembarked.

In Hong Kong, which has a humid subtropical climate, the flu season runs from December to March, in the winter and early spring.

It’s not clear how many people usually die or are diagnosed with influenza during a Northern Hemisphere flu season cruise aboard the Diamond Princess.

As the dust begins to settle on the Princess Panic it’s possible to make a few observations.

As of 5 March 2020, at least 696 out of the 3,711 passengers and crew had tested positive for the virus. On 6 March, the death toll reached 7.

1) There have only been seven “coronavirus-related” deaths out of the 3,711 people who were aboard the Diamond Princess i.e. 0.19% of the total aboard or 0.32% of the 60+ age group.

Two passengers died on 20 February and a third on 23 February, all three Japanese citizens in their 80s. A fourth passenger, an elderly Japanese man, was reported on 25 February to have died. The fifth fatality, a British national in his 70s, died on 28 February. A 78-year-old Australian national, who was evacuated from the ship, died on 1 March in Australia, making him the sixth. A Hong Kong national from the ship died on 6 March, making him the seventh coronavirus-related death from the ship.

2) A remarkable 2,922 people tested negative for COVID-19 i.e. 78.74% tested negative.

3) Out of the 696 passengers that tested positive for COVID-19 there were 410 asymptomatic cases i.e. 58.91 % of the COVID-19 “cases” experienced no symptoms.

In medicine, a disease is considered asymptomatic if a patient is a carrier for a disease or infection but experiences no symptoms.

It’s possible some asymptomatic cases are false positives.

Many years ago Upton Sinclair observed:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something
When his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Quote Investigator

An updated version for 2020 reads:

People panic when their pay depends upon panicking.

That probably explains why these people like counting asymptomatic “cases”.

But, as always:

If you like your Petri dish then you can keep your Petri dish.

Gallery | This entry was posted in History, Medicine. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Princess Panic

  1. malagabay says:

    Seems like some of the usual suspects are playing about with Case Fatality Rates.

    Panic Pandemic – Why are people who should know better buying the Covid19 hype?
    Off-Guardian – Catte Black – 16 March 2020

  2. malagabay says:

    A wonderful read by Clark Whelton.

    For those who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s, there was nothing unusual about finding yourself threatened by contagious disease.

    Mumps, measles, chicken pox, and German measles swept through entire schools and towns; I had all four.

    Polio took a heavy annual toll, leaving thousands of people (mostly children) paralyzed or dead.

    There were no vaccines.

    Growing up meant running an unavoidable gauntlet of infectious disease.

    For college students in 1957, the Asian flu was a familiar hurdle on the road to adulthood.

    For everyone older, the flu was a familiar foe.

    There was no possibility of working at home.

    You had to go out and face the danger.

    Say Your Prayers and Take Your Chances
    Remembering the 1957 Asian flu pandemic – Clark Whelton – March 13, 2020

  3. malagabay says:

    Another very interesting read.

    If we assume that case fatality rate among individuals infected by SARS-CoV-2 is 0.3% in the general population — a mid-range guess from my Diamond Princess analysis — and that 1% of the U.S. population gets infected (about 3.3 million people), this would translate to about 10,000 deaths.
    This sounds like a huge number, but it is buried within the noise of the estimate of deaths from “influenza-like illness.”

    In the absence of data, prepare-for-the-worst reasoning leads to extreme measures of social distancing and lockdowns.
    Unfortunately, we do not know if these measures work.
    School closures, for example, may reduce transmission rates.
    But they may also backfire if children socialize anyhow, if school closure leads children to spend more time with susceptible elderly family members, if children at home disrupt their parents ability to work, and more.
    School closures may also diminish the chances of developing herd immunity in an age group that is spared serious disease.

    A fiasco in the making?
    As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data – John P.A. Ioannidis – 17 March 2020

  4. Patrick Donnelly says:

    I have always hated these tin cans. But if the Nova means a reversal of the magnetic field encompassing the entire solar system, with pole flipping and consequent tsunami, I would definitely invest in one that spent some time in a deep ocean!

  5. Pingback: European Croaking Contest | MalagaBay

  6. Patrick Donnelly says:

    Somehow, the idea of floating free of tsunami, eating the dead aboard, becomes more attractive. Need to protect the chefs to ensure long pig does not become boring ….

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