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Tooele Man Isolated In Japanese Hospital With Coronavirus

TOOELE, Utah – A Utah man has been kept alone in a Japanese hospital room overseas with a scary diagnosis until doctors can be sure he is free of the coronavirus. It began as a months-long vacation, but turned into a weeks-long cruise quarantine.

“There’s not much I can do,” Tooele resident John Haering said from the Chiba University Hospital. “You’ve heard all the stories about people dying and how bad this is, and then you’re going through it.”

Rewind to a couple of months ago and Haering and his wife Melanie were heading off on their six-month-long vacation to celebrate retirement.

They took a cruise ship to Singapore. They stopped in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The two-week cruise then brought them to Japan, where they remained docked and quarantined with thousands of others after a coronavirus outbreak on board the ship.

The quarantine started out OK for the couple, but eventually Haering came down with a fever.

“I was so sick for four days with high fever, nausea, headache, stomach pain,” he said.

It was 22 hours before a doctor came to see him, only to give him some medicine and leave him for another three days in his cabin with his wife.

“We were really scared,” he said.

From Cruise Ship To Japanese Hospital

Then, just when he started feeling better, he got a call to pack his bag. He was headed to the hospital.

“I protested. I said, ‘I’m not going to the hospital. I feel fine,’” he said. “They said, ‘You don’t have a choice.’”

About an hour drive into Tokyo later and John was assigned a new temporary home, where he was finally tested and learned he did have the coronavirus, now officially renamed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization.

“I would much rather be on the cruise ship,” Haering said.

As of Friday, his third day in isolation, he had only been allowed to leave his room once for a CT scan.

“They walked me through the hospital for the CT scan, which was quite an experience because they had to close off all the elevators. They closed off all the hallways,” he said. “I have to have my hands in my pockets. I can’t touch anything. (I have to) wear the mask, and everyone around me is all taped up with face shields.”

“Your freedom is gone,” he continued. “You don’t have the ability to leave or support yourself, which is difficult.”

There’s also the language barrier, and he’s now missing all the conveniences of the cruise ship.

“Nobody wants to come within 20 feet of you, so it makes me concerned,” he said.

Still, Haering was grateful for the support and the treatment he’s received. He hoped he will soon be reunited with his wife. He was unsure if or when she will be tested for the coronavirus.

“We have been overwhelmed with all the support. So, we thank you. Please continue to pray. That is important to us,” he said. “We’ll be home soon.”

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