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Setauket couple says they are stuck on board 'death ship' in Panama

A Setauket couple is stuck on board a cruise now being called the "death ship" in Panama on which four passengers have died from coronavirus.

News 12 Staff

Mar 30, 2020, 10:07 PM

Updated 1,540 days ago

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A Setauket couple is stuck on board a cruise now being called the "death ship" in Panama on which four passengers have died from coronavirus.
Max Jo tells News 12 he is worried about his parents Jae, 76 and Julitta, 75. They are among the more than 1,200 passengers stranded on Holland America's Zaandam.
What began on March 7 as a fun-filled voyage on the luxury liner quickly turned into a nightmare with deteriorating conditions on board after four passengers died and two others tested positive for COVID-19.
Nearly 200 passengers and crew aboard the Zaandam cruise ship are reporting "influenza-like illness symptoms" as the ship makes its way toward Florida.
Jo says his father is running a fever but is hanging in there.
"He's still hanging in there but we need to get everybody to real medical facilities soon," says Jo. "They're just overwhelmed on these ships."
His parents and other passengers are awaiting permission to disembark after several South American ports denied the ship's entry.
Jo keeps in contact with his parents via email, but says the conditions on the ship are becoming more desperate with each passing day. He is reaching out to lawmakers through social media and phone calls hoping to get help. Jo wants lawmakers to push Florida officials to allow the boat to dock in Fort Lauderdale. So far Florida officials have refused.
"It's literally not in my backyard stance. It's just heartbreaking because my parents are U.S. citizens," says Jo. "If they're persona non-grata in their own country, like where can you go? And I understand these folks trying to protect their local citizens, but if you don't have the compassion or humanity to help your fellow citizens, you know, what's going to happen to all of us?"
Jo says he plans to keep the pressure on and do all he can to comfort his parents.
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