They Escaped an Infected Ship, but the Flight Home Was No Haven

They Escaped an Infected Ship, but the Flight Home Was No Haven


John Haering, 63, a retired operations manager for Union Pacific Railroad who lives in Tooele, Utah, was taken to a hospital in Chiba Prefecture last week with a fever and tested positive for the virus. He said he felt stranded as he lay in an isolation room.

His wife, Melanie, left on one of the charter flights.

“I’m happy for her that she got out of here and that she’s going to get some attention in the U.S.,” said Mr. Haering, who retired in November and was about a third of the way through a six-month trip around the world. “But at the same time I’m sad. You feel that loss of somebody leaving.”

Mr. Haering, who said that he no longer had any symptoms or a fever but that a CT scan showed signs of pneumonia, was not sure how much longer he would have to stay.

“They did swab me today again, and I’ll get my test back tomorrow,” he said. “I asked the doctor if the swab shows that I’m negative, and he just shook his head and said, ‘I don’t know.’ There’s a lot of stuff that they don’t know.”

Mr. Haering said he had not heard from anyone at Princess Cruises, the company that operates the Diamond Princess, since he arrived at the hospital. Until Sunday, he had not heard from anyone at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, either.

He received a call and a follow-up email urging him to get in touch with the cruise ship company for further information about how he will get home.

“It’s very scary,” he said. “It feels like a little bit of abandonment.”

Tung Pi Lee, 79, a retired physician, was left in a Tokyo hospital with a coronavirus infection while his wife, Angela, flew to California on one of the charter flights. Several of her siblings and their spouses were among the 14 infected passengers who flew home. Two were taken to Nebraska, and another was in California for treatment.



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