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Former Winnipegger on quarantined cruise ship: ‘We’re doing as well as can be expected’

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Debra Chan – who lives in San Francisco now, but says she still spends a few months a year in Winnipeg – is stranded with her husband John at a port just outside of Tokyo.

A former Winnipegger has been stuck on a quarantined cruise ship in Japan for a week now, due to coronavirus fears.

Debra Chan – who lives in San Francisco now, but says she still spends a few months a year in Winnipeg – is stranded with her husband John at a port just outside of Tokyo.

Chan, who hasn’t been exposed to the virus herself, told 680 CJOB that all things considered, she’s doing all right.

“We’re doing as well as can be expected,” she said.

READ MORE: Canadian researchers return from WHO forum with plan to tackle coronavirus

“We’re very fortunate to have a balcony, so we spend most of our time out there, so it’s not too bad.

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“We’re more fortunate than the people who have the inside rooms. It’s not huge, but it’s comfortable.”

Although Chan and her husband aren’t able to move freely around the ship, she said they’ve been keeping busy with TV, free wi-fi, card games, books, and even a daily morning show put on by the cruise’s entertainment staff – who aren’t allowed to leave the ship either.

“I’m keeping pretty occupied. I haven’t gone stir-crazy yet.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s actually quite comfortable’: Alberta couple on cruise ship quarantined over coronavirus

Chan said she boarded the ship in Hong Kong, five days or so after most of the passengers were already on the cruise. Those early passengers were directly exposed to the first person who was sick and “started this whole thing.”

They had actually just finished their cruise when the quarantine happened, so they’ve been on board for a total of 20 days so far, with a week or so to go, provided they stay healthy.

The Chans have been told they can go home next Wednesday as long as they continue to show no symptoms of the virus. For now, Debra said, they’re trying to make the best of things. Despite the experience, it hasn’t soured them on taking other cruises in the future.

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“I’m just so happy, the way they’ve handled everything, and I think this is just an extraordinary event we won’t see again,” she said.

“They’re refunding the money for our cruise and giving us a free one for a future sail as compensation for this.”

To date, the ongoing coronavirus outbreak had sickened more than 45,000 people, mostly in China, and killed roughly 1000 others. Two deaths have been reported outside mainland China, while more than 20 countries, including Canada, have confirmed cases of infection.

–With files from Amanda Connolly and The Associated Press

Click to play video 'Canadians describe quarantine experience on cruise ship off Japan' Canadians describe quarantine experience on cruise ship off Japan
Canadians describe quarantine experience on cruise ship off Japan