March 6, 2020 / 11:14 AM / a month ago

Americans returning home after quarantine and Tokyo dining enthralled Twitter

TOKYO (Reuters) - An American couple whose cruise ship quarantine and Tokyo dining became a Twitter phenomenon are finally on their way home.

Matt Smith and Kathy Codekas, both 57, were passengers aboard the Diamond Princess that was quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama bay as coronavirus cases aboard the ship climbed past 700 and six died.

The couple declined an offer to be evacuated with hundreds of other Americans and go through quarantine again, choosing to stay in Tokyo until they were removed from a do-not-board list that kept them off homebound flights.

“We would have had more likelihood of contracting the virus in those circumstances on that plane than anything we did on the ship or during the quarantine,” said Smith, whose postings aboard the ship garnered 15,000 followers on Twitter.

“We had the opportunity to see a little more of Tokyo, and enjoy some more of the food.”

The couple, both California-based lawyers, caught some criticism online for going out in public, as other evacuees and passengers have subsequently tested positive for the virus. Smith said he and his wife followed all instructions from medical authorities, taking their temperature twice daily and reporting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Smith’s Twitter account was one of the best glimpses into life aboard the stricken cruise liner. When the couple were let off on Feb. 20, they sequestered themselves in a Tokyo hotel. The account became a journal of room service offerings, delivered by staff who would “knock on the door and flee.” He documented outings to Tokyo Tower, McDonald’s, and Starbucks, along with some fine dining.

The couple are returning home soon, though the exact date is private, Smith said, drawing a close to their “surreal” holiday.

“We’ve enjoyed the hospitality of the Japanese and the facility that allowed us to stay here,” Smith said. “Just wish people wouldn’t panic so much and just try and stay calm. Follow basic health rules and that’s the best you can do.”

Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Peter Graff

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