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Outaouais couple 'very afraid' as coronavirus spreads aboard quarantined cruise ship

Outaouais couple 'very afraid' as coronavirus spreads aboard quarantined cruise ship

Feb 14, 2020

Ottawa (Canada) Feb 14: For Diane and Bernard Menard, life aboard the Diamond Princess has been a constant blend of fear and isolation.
The couple, from Cantley, Que., are among the 3,500 passengers still under quarantine aboard the cruise liner docked near Tokyo.
By Thursday, 218 passengers had tested positive for the disease, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has dubbed COVID-19. It's the biggest concentration of confirmed cases outside of mainland China, according to the WHO.
The 12 Canadians who contracted the virus on board the ship have been moved to Japanese health facilities, and at least three require hospitalization, Foreign Affairs Minister Fran├žois-Philippe Champagne said Thursday.
Japanese authorities now say they may soon let the rest of the passengers, who have been under quarantine since last week, disembark and finish out their isolation on land.
'We wait for the virus'
For the Menards, that can't happen soon enough.
"We sit down, then wait for the virus," Diane Menard told Radio-Canada in French. "The people who serve us our meals, who circulate in the corridor, we don't know if they have the virus."
One week ago, there were only about 60 confirmed cases aboard the Diamond Princess, so the virus is spreading. Menard said she and her husband, both in their 70s, are "very afraid."
Much of the on-board communication is in Japanese, so the Menards don't always know what's going on. They've said they've been eating and sleeping poorly, and now stay confined to their cabin at all times, refusing to participate in optional outings to the ship's deck for some air after seeing some passengers ignore instructions to wear masks and stay at least two metres apart.
"We went for two days, one hour. Now we don't go anymore," Diane Menard said. "People take off their masks for smoking, they take off their masks to take photos, they take off their masks for coughing or blowing their nose."
The couple's cabin has a window, unlike other cabins on the ship.
Looking for help from home
On Wednesday, Japanese medical personnel took blood samples from the Menards and every other passenger age 75 and older.
The couple said there's a team of 45 doctors, nurses and pharmacists on board the ship.
Diane Menard, who has diabetes, said she's been in contact with Canadian diplomatic officials in Japan, who told her they're negotiating with the Japanese government.
"We are halfway through the quarantine, and nothing has happened," Menard said.
More than 200 Canadians who had beentrapped in Wuhan, China, since the outbreak began returned to Canada in the last week on two government-chartered planes. They're in quarantine at CFB Trenton.
In Canada, 198 people have been tested for coronavirus, and seven tested positive.
One of those seven is no longer infected, according to public health officials. The student at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., who had been confined to her home since returning from China at the end of January, had only mild symptoms.
Source: CBC News