ONSTED, MI – The Muth family is home in Michigan after nearly three weeks of international travel toils.
The Muths were on Holland America’s Westerdam cruise in Asia, but their ship was turned away from multiple countries because of coronavirus fears, since it left from China on Feb. 1.
Concerns escalated when an 83-year-old woman initially tested positive for the virus as passengers were disembarking in Cambodia early last week – after a slew of other countries wouldn’t take them. After being retested, officials determined the woman never had the virus, per USA Today.
Even flying home was a challenge, said Steve Muth, of Onsted. Starting Tuesday, Feb. 18, the family was routed from Cambodia to Dubai, to Boston, to Detroit. They arrived home late the next night, Muth said.
“It just was a complete nightmare,” Muth said.
All other Westerdam cruises in Asia have been canceled this spring, per Holland America.
Muth, his wife, daughter and her boyfriend all tested negative for the coronavirus – as did all of the more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board.
But airport officials in various countries seemed to know who was aboard the Westerdam, Muth said.
“It scares me, because I travel a lot,” Muth said. “My concern is, two months down the road, I may be traveling somewhere and they may pull me aside and say, ‘You can’t travel because you’re sick’ or something stupid, when of course I’m not.”
The lesson from the Holland America Westerdam case is there needs to be international standards for situations like this, Muth said.
“People are just so paranoid about this,” Muth said. “I’ve got to believe it’s got to do with this fascination of the zombie apocalypse and social media. Everybody thinks there’s a disease out there that’s going to take us all down.”
There are more than 77,000 confirmed cases of the deadly disease and more than 2,500 deaths in China, per news reports.
Since returning home, Muth said his family has been warmly welcomed. They’ve been checking in with the Lenawee County Health Department to make sure no symptoms arise, as a precautionary measure.
“The negative comes in social media, where there’s no ramifications or repercussions,” Muth said. “What really concerns me is the stigma that goes along with this – people thinking you’re the ‘coronavirus people.’ I just don’t want people with pitchforks and burning torches outside my house.”