REUTERS – An American couple whose cruise ship quarantine and Tokyo dining became a Twitter phenomenon are finally on their way home.
Matt Smith and Kathy Codekas, both 57, were passengers aboard the Diamond Princess that was quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama bay as coronavirus cases aboard the ship climbed past 700 and six died.
The couple declined an offer to be evacuated with hundreds of other Americans and go through quarantine again, choosing to stay in Tokyo until they were removed from a do-not-board list that kept them off homebound flights.
The fleet of coaches – 11 in all it appears- lined up to "save" the Americans. An American woman – who last night could be heard shouting, "Get me off this ship" – stands on her balcony chanting "USA, USA." Of course, in contravention of the rules of quarantine, pic.twitter.com/EtN0LtG5ns
— Matthew Smith (@mjswhitebread) February 16, 2020
“We would have had more likelihood of contracting the virus in those circumstances on that plane than anything we did on the ship or during the quarantine,” said Smith, whose postings aboard the ship garnered 15,000 followers on Twitter.
“We had the opportunity to see a little more of Tokyo, and enjoy some more of the food.”
The couple, both California-based lawyers, caught some criticism online for going out in public, as other evacuees and passengers have subsequently tested positive for the virus. Smith said he and his wife followed all instructions from medical authorities, taking their temperature twice daily and reporting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tokyo Narita, middle of the day. Who would have thought? pic.twitter.com/PeJTtqNEUP
— Matthew Smith (@mjswhitebread) March 8, 2020
Smith’s Twitter account was one of the best glimpses into life aboard the stricken cruise liner. When the couple were let off on Feb. 20, they sequestered themselves in a Tokyo hotel. The account became a journal of room service offerings, delivered by staff who would “knock on the door and flee.” He documented outings to Tokyo Tower, McDonald’s, and Starbucks, along with some fine dining.
“We’ve enjoyed the hospitality of the Japanese and the facility that allowed us to stay here,” Smith said. “Just wish people wouldn’t panic so much and just try and stay calm. Follow basic health rules and that’s the best you can do.”
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.