By Michael Dashiell / Peninsula Daily News
SEQUIM — A couple who recently returned from a trip to Asia as the spread of Covid-19 virus made increasingly alarming headlines are spending Valentine’s Day in voluntary quarantine in their Sequim home to ensure they don’t bring their neighbors an unexpected gift.
“We didn’t want to bring this virus back to our little town of Sequim,” said Maureen Murphy, who said she and her husband Larry will end their self-imposed two-week exile on Sunday.
“We did not have to do a self-quarantine,” she said in an email. “Just because there was a remote possibility of carrying the virus, we really decided to protect others.”
The Murphys traveled to Singapore in January and saw the sights for a few days before boarding a cruise ship for 15 nights, with stops in Vietnam and Hong Kong.
During their trip, news spread of the new coronavirus — since been named Corvid-19 by the World Health Organization — which originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
“We were so lucky experiencing only the beginning of the happenings regarding the start of the virus,” Maureen said via email.
“Each time we disembarked the ship they monitored our body temperatures, and masks were required at all ports,” she said.
The Murphys — who moved to Sequim from San Diego, Calif., in 2005 — said that their family members stateside were concerned as news reports of the coronavirus developed.
To calm their fears, the couple sent photos home of the two of them having a lovely time being tourists — while wearing face masks.
“We tried to make light of a not-yet-serious situation (with the photos),” Maureen said.
They returned to the United State on Feb. 2, landing at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
“We thought the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) would be checking us out thoroughly but that never happened … We were just passed through immigration,” Maureen said.
“We were monitored more on the ship in Singapore.”
Although they had no signs of ill health, the Murphys decided to impose a self-quarantine for two weeks once back in Sequim.
That was based on the CDC’s report that the new coronavirus has an incubation period of up to 14 days.
As of Thursday, China had reported nearly 60,000 cases of the respiratory disease with a death toll of 1,367, according to The New York Times. Fifteen cases had been reported in the United States, the CDC said, with one case confirmed in Washington state, where an unidentified man was treated and discharged from an Everett hospital.
“So far we are both healthy — no symptoms,” Maureen said, adding that both are “hoping for happy ending to this coronavirus story.”
PDN Executive Editor Leah Leach contributed to this story, which originally appeared in the Peninsula Daily News, a sibling paper to the Herald.