A former Winnipegger has been transported to the United States after her vacation was unexpectedly extended due to coronavirus fears.
Debra Chan — who lives in San Francisco now but says she still spends a few months a year in Winnipeg — was stranded on the Diamond Princess with her husband John for over a week at a port just outside of Tokyo.
The couple have now been at Travis Air Force Base in California for two days, awaiting further medical clearance. Chan told 680 CJOB they’re expecting to be there for two more weeks before they can return home.
“We were extricated two days ago and it took 10 hours for them to get everybody off the cruise ship. We did a lot of sitting on buses,” she said.
The long transition from the ship to the bus was due to more test results coming in, Chan added.
“We finally figured out — because they’d just gotten some more test results — the people who were sitting on the buses with us, there were a few cases that were actually positive for the coronavirus.
“While we were sitting on the buses, they actually pulled them off first to go on to the planes. That was quite shocking for us to find out when the flight was finished.”
The people who tested positive for COVID-19 were seated in a cordoned-off area, behind a plastic barrier, on the flight, Chan said.
While the Chans were able to leave Japan, there are still people quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise liner.
“Actually, I have a brother-in-law and his wife who are still on the cruise ship, and they’re being extricated tonight to Hong Kong.”
Passengers were receiving daily updates on the status of the virus on the ship.
“We heard that there’s over 540 cases now on the cruise ship. It’s just like a petri dish there right now, so I think everybody will do much better once they’re off.”
Chan and her husband John have been told if they test negative again for COVID-19 they will be able to leave their rooms with masks by Wednesday.
“We have to maintain still two metres apart from each other while we’re outside. We’re given a limited area that we can actually go to, which is quite large, but this is a very active working air force base so they don’t want us to get anywhere near their operations.”
The Chans remain in good spirits, even though by the end of their quarantine they will have spent up to six weeks away from home.
“We’ve learned to just go with it — do what they say, and all will be well.”
-With files from Hal Anderson.View link »