Quebecois couple on quarantined cruise ship in Japan test positive for coronavirus

MONTREAL —
An elderly Quebecois couple from Gatineau, Que., aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, their daughter said on Saturday.

Diane, 73, and Bernard Menard, 75, are confined to their cabin and awaiting transportation by ambulance to a military hospital where they will be kept in isolation until they no longer test positive for the virus, Chantal Menard told The Canadian Press in an interview.

“They are very fragile and weak,” Menard said. “It’s been two days, they are resting … they have fever. My mother is coughing a bit.”

She said her parents’ symptoms are similar to those of the common cold.

The couple are among the 67 new positive cases of COVID-19 virus detected aboard the ship, which has been under quarantine at a port city southwest of Tokyo since Feb. 5, according to a statement issued Saturday from Jan Swartz, president of the cruise line.

Swartz said a total of three Canadians were part of the 67 new cases discovered on the Diamond Princess. In total, 285 people have tested positive on the ship, following the new cases discovered Saturday.

Theresa Tam, chief public health officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said on Saturday that 15 Canadians on the Diamond Princess have tested positive for the virus.

Tam told reporters during a media conference call the Canadian government has deployed three officials from the country’s public health agency to help the Canadians who are under quarantine on the boat and in Japanese health facilities.

Menard said her parents were on the last day of their month-long tour of Asia when they learned the boat was under quarantine. “They had packed their suitcases, went for dinner, and when they got back the ship’s authorities had put their suitcases back in their rooms,” she said.

“It’s very difficult for us, very difficult,” Menard said of the toll the news of her parents’ health has taken on the family. “They are elderly. We are very worried. They are on the other side of the world and we feel helpless.”

Meanwhile, there are about 400 Canadians under quarantine at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in southern Ontario. They were repatriated by Canada from the Chinese province of Hubei, which includes the city of Wuhan, considered as the epicentre of the outbreak.

“I am pleased to report that everyone quarantined at CFB Trenton is healthy with no symptoms of novel coronavirus infections,” Tam said. Should that continue, she said, those who arrived at the base on Feb. 7 will be able to leave on Feb. 21, while those who arrived on Feb. 11 can leave Feb. 25.

Tam said there are eight people in Canada who have tested positive for the virus, following news on Friday that a new case was discovered in British Columbia. There have been three cases in Ontario and five in B.C., pending confirmation of the latest case by a laboratory.

Tam said the risk to people in Canada remains low: “The fact we’ve been able to quickly detect these cases and prevent the spread of the virus in our community shows that our health system is working as it should.”

The viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 67,000 people globally, mostly in the central Chinese province of Hubei.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 15, 2020.

— With files from The Associated Press.



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