Diamond Princess passenger's return to reality from coronavirus quarantine

Clare and Lyn Hedger stuck inside a cabin aboard Diamond Princess.
Clare and Lyn Hedger stuck inside a cabin aboard Diamond Princess.

RETURNED Diamond Princess passenger Lyn Hedger fears post-traumatic stress could arise among Australians quarantined aboard the ship amid a coronavirus outbreak.

Ms Hedger said she had it was a strange feeling to arrive home from 29 days in near-isolation with life continuing near-normal in Ballarat with events like the begonia festival playing out.

What has surprised Ms Hedger has been the "selfish" and "ludicrous" stockpiling of toilet paper and other staples, including porridge which she had to chase around to buy.

Having been through such a lengthy quarantine, first on board the ship moored off Yokohama in Japan and then on land in Darwin, Ms Hedger said it was amazing how the body and mind adapted.

Still, she was unsure how this might impact passengers later.

"It's certainly not as bad as being in a disaster zone but it's all relative. It could well have impacts on mental health, especially from being enclosed in a small cabin for so long," Ms Hedger said.

"I think it was an amazing experience though and one I'm grateful to have gone through, as strange as it sounds. I learnt a lot about myself and how I can adapt to situations."

I think it was an amazing experience though and one I'm grateful to have gone through, as strange as it sounds. I learnt a lot about myself and how I can adapt to situations.

Lyn Hedger

Ms Hedger, who was quarantined with daughter Clare, said mental health support was available on the Diamond Princess but none in the Howard Springs quarantine camp in Darwin, despite being otherwise well looked after.

She said the experience would have been even tougher for those travelling alone or whose loved ones were taken away after being tested positive for the virus.

On the ship, Ms Hedger and her daughter struggled to tell when it was day or night and consequently both felt a little "jet-lagged" in trying to settle a normal sleeping routine.

Ms Hedger said there was a real lack of power in being confined to a cabin for so long in having to ask for everything you need. She had missed being able to make her own toast.

There was also a marked adjustment in socialising with others, having been kept from fellow passengers for at least one metre when on deck for air and wearing face masks. When quarantine broke on Thursday morning, Ms Hedger did not recognise some fellow passengers or staff without their masks on.

Even now, hearing a sniffle or feeling a throat tickle has Ms Hedger a little anxious. They had become schooled in checking out the slightest niggles but there was not the same level of scruntiny now home.

Ms Hedger still experiences memory issues looking back on the experience and said keeping a daily journal had been pivotal in detailing how she felt and what unfolded.

But Ms Hedger was not interested in keeping track of coronavirus as it continues to headline the news, except to follow the Grand Princess cruise ship held off the coast of San Francisco.

Instead, Ms Hedger is easing herself back into Ballarat life.

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This story Diamond Princess passenger's return to reality from coronavirus quarantine first appeared on The Courier.