Tri-cities doctor talks sudden separation from wife aboard quarantined cruise ship


(WJHL)- A Tri-Cities couple was not among the hundreds of Americans who were rescued from a quarantined ship in Japan following an outbreak of the Coronavirus.

This news comes after the Elizabethton couple confirmed Jeannie Hopland tested positive for the Coronavirus just before they were scheduled to board a plane for quarantine in the United States.

More than 300 Americans onboard the “Diamond Princess” cruise ship in Japan arrived on home soil as of Monday morning with 14 of those passengers testing positive for the illness. However, state department officials said they showed no symptoms.

After being told they would not be evacuating the ship, the Hoplands learned that Jeannie would be sent to a hospital in Japan and separated from her husband. The separation happened early Monday morning as Jeannie was transported to Self-Defense Force Central hospital in Tokyo.

Dr. Hopland said he tried negotiating with officials to have her stay on the ship in quarantine with him but they refused. Jeannie left with her cellphone and just the clothes on her back since both of their bags were already taken and shipped back to the U.S. this past weekend.

Dr. Hopland told News Channel 11 that he’s keeping in touch with his wife every step of the way. He said while Jeannie is strong and will get through this, he does have a number of concerns about this entire situation.

SEE ALSO: Coronavirus quarantine: Tri-Cities couple on vacation stuck on cruise ship off Japan’s coast

The Hoplands have been through a whirlwind of emotions this past weekend after being initially told they would be leaving the ship, then finding out they had to stay after Jeannie tested positive for the virus.

Officials back home on U.S. soil are working around the clock to not only get the Hoplands home, but also other Americans on board. “I know that our folks are working very hard to make sure that our citizens are taken care of, specifically when you know someone in a situation like that, you want to reach out and do everything you can to help not just them, but all American,” said Congressman Phil Roe.

Of the Americans returned to the United States on Monday morning, 14 of them also tested positive for the virus. “The fact that we weren’t amongst those 14 was just a happenstance that they caught us just as we were leaving the door or we would have been number 15,” said Dr. Arnold Hopland.

MORE: Chattanooga couple quarantined in Texas, Elizabethton couple still in Japan

Now the Hoplands are separated and it’s something they had feared from the initial news of Jeannie’s diagnosis. “The disease isn’t the scary part, it’s just the unknown of going into a hospital where nobody speaks English and she has no ideas what the requirements are going to be and what her situation will be,” said Hopland.

Dr. Hopland said they downloaded a number of translation apps on her phone before she was transported, but they still worry the language barrier will be a huge issue.

“It’s terrifying for her. She’s going to be in a foreign country, she’s going to have difficulty communicating with anybody medically, she wasn’t aware if she’d be totally isolated in a single isolation room, or what that was going to look like so she was obviously very anxious,” said their son, Dr. Kenneth Hopland.

However, their son is hopeful that the U.S. government will find a way to bring his parents home soon. “I’m hopeful that she will begin her supervision there and finish it in the United States which obviously will make it easier to communicate,” he said.

Dr. Hopland said his wife is in a holding room with two other women, one of which speaks an entirely different language, but the other is American so she’s not entirely alone and is already making friends.

As far as what the next steps are and when they can return home, those answers are still up in the air.

Their son, Kenneth Hopland, said his parents are strong and he believes they will get through this.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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