SCOTTSDALE, AZ — A Scottsdale cancer doctor who has been in a coronavirus quarantine in Texas since Feb. 17 along with 121 other cruise ship passengers is speaking out after the quarantine was extended past Monday without explanation.
Dr. Sommer Gunia was among the passengers on Diamond Princess cruise ship who were brought to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland on a chartered airplane Feb. 17 out of Japan, where the ship was docked.
According to reports, the quarantine was expected end Monday; but around 8:30 a.m., Gunia and others were told told the quarantine had been extended.
According to a report Monday afternoon in the San Antonio Express News, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued a declaration that could leave evacuees in quarantine for another week.
“I, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, declare that ingress into and travel through the City of San Antonio from Lackland by those persons that have been quarantined in the facility is not permitted. No previously quarantined person shall be permitted to enter the City of San Antonio until further notice,” the Express News reported, quoting Nirenberg.
He also declared a local state of disaster and public health emergency as well as forbade further evacuees entering the city.
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The quarantine extension comes on the heels of the CDC’s announcement that one person who had been released from Lackland tested “weakly positive” for the COVID-19 virus days later.
That person has since been returned to quarantine, and officials say they’re working to identify and test anyone with whom the person came into contact.
Phoenix’s KTAR News 92.3 FM spoke with Gunia Monday morning by phone. According to the station’s report, Gunia was told then that she and her family could not leave the base.
“We’re talking about doing a hunger strike now,” she told the radio station. “How long are they going to keep us here?”
In a public post on her Facebook account dated Feb. 20, Gunia wrote, in part, “We deserve to know what the plans are for our lives. I personally have put my career on hold for a month and have left my pet children behind. I really feel like they don’t care about us as individuals and that we are just ‘passengers of the Diamond Princess.'”
Gunia told KTAR News she has been reaching out to public officials and both of Arizona’s U.S. senators but has heard little in response.
“I don’t understand this. I really feel like this is against our human rights,” she told the station.
It’s unclear how long the extended quarantine will last. The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.