Advertisement

COVID-19: B.C. man on Grand Princess ‘exhilarated’ to be repatriated back to Canada

Click to play video 'COVID-19: California Governor, state officials announce preparations for return of Grand Princess passengers' COVID-19: California Governor, state officials announce preparations for return of Grand Princess passengers
On Sunday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state officials announced joint federal, state and local preparations for the safe return of passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The news that Canada will soon repatriate the 237 Canadians aboard a cruise ship that has confirmed cases of coronavirus on board was music to the ears of a Surrey, B.C., man and his wife.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Sunday that the passengers on the Grand Princess will be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in eastern Ontario.

Robert Grubb first heard about the plans from Global News, and he could barely contain his excitement.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Government chartering plane for Canadians on Grand Princess

“It feels bloody wonderful, is how it feels,” he said with a laugh.

Grubb and his wife, both in their 80s, have been calling on the Canadian government to help them and their fellow citizens since last week, when the ship was denied permission to dock in San Francisco, Calif., over COVID-19 concerns.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: U.S. officials provide COVID-19 response, quarantined cruise ship passengers updates' Coronavirus outbreak: U.S. officials provide COVID-19 response, quarantined cruise ship passengers updates
Coronavirus outbreak: U.S. officials provide COVID-19 response, quarantined cruise ship passengers updates

Passengers on a previous sailing of the Grand Princess — including several Canadians — were later diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, leading to the decision to keep the ship anchored off shore. The two voyages shared some passengers and crew.

Wider testing took place after 21 cases were confirmed on the vessel on Friday. Nineteen of those infected are crew members.

Grubb and his wife were not tested, but they and the rest of the passengers were confined to their rooms. On Sunday, he said the ship had cut off its free internet service.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Frustrations mount as Grand Princess passengers remain on ship

After that experience, he said a two-week quarantine at a military base in Ontario doesn’t faze him.

Story continues below advertisement

“I would rather be on Canadian soil under Canadian medical care if that’s necessary than here in the United States,” Grubb said.

“In the United States, it seems to be so disorganized, just the comments that Trump is making leads everyone to a state of confusion. So I am exhilarated by that news. And Trenton is fine, it’s Canadian soil.”

Click to play video 'COVID-19: Pence says everyone on Grand Princess cruise to be tested after 21 confirmed to have virus' COVID-19: Pence says everyone on Grand Princess cruise to be tested after 21 confirmed to have virus
COVID-19: Pence says everyone on Grand Princess cruise to be tested after 21 confirmed to have virus

Before Sunday’s announcement, Grubb and other members of his family repeatedly reached out to both Global Affairs Canada and their MP, Cloverdale-Langley City representative Tamara Jansen, asking to be repatriated.

The ministry told them and Global News that they were in contact with Canadians on board and were making themselves available to provide assistance, but would not commit to charting a plane until Sunday.

According to Grubb and his daughter Melissa Fitzgerald, Jansen promised the family she would do what she could to get the government to act.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: ‘Think twice’ before booking a cruise vacation: Canada’s top health official

Global News has reached out to Jansen’s office for comment.

Champagne said the move to fly the Canadians home came at the request of the U.S. government.

The passengers will not be allowed to board the flight if they exhibit symptoms. Instead, they will receive further assessment to determine next steps, Champagne said.

Grubb says he and his wife are still feeling healthy and are confident they’ll be allowed onto the plane.

READ MORE: ‘Think twice’ before booking a cruise vacation: Canada’s top health official

Fitzgerald said she’s simply excited to hear her parents will not be kept in quarantine on the ship.

“It’s fantastic, it’s what we’ve been working for,” she said.

“They were really hoping the Canadian government would step in and help, so I’m sure they’re overjoyed.”

—With files from Kerri Breen