Advertisement

Coronavirus: Ontario native talks ‘great amount of fear’ during lockdown on cruise ship near Japan

Greg and Rose Yerex from Port Dover spent pretty much the entire month of February in quarantine after a number of passengers and crew came down with COVID-19 on Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Greg and Rose Yerex from Port Dover spent pretty much the entire month of February in quarantine after a number of passengers and crew came down with COVID-19 on Diamond Princess cruise ship. Greg and Rose Yerex / Facebook

One half of a Port Dover couple quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise off the coast of Japan for almost a month says the most unnerving part of testing positive for the new coronavirus is not knowing what’s going to happen.

“You have really no idea what’s going to happen,” said Rose Yerex. “So, yeah, there’s a great amount of fear there.”

Story continues below advertisement

 

Rose and her husband Greg were two of more than 700 people infected by COVID-19 on the cruise ship forced to dock in Yokohama, Japan, early February to undergo a disease control quarantine.

READ MORE: Coronavirus concerns prompt Princess Cruises to suspend operations for 2 months

Having the affair behind her and happily back at home in Norfolk County, Yerex says the unwelcome adventure began when word came down that an individual on the ship came down with the novel coronavirus.

Yerex said she and her husband — both in their late 60s — had no idea what they were in store for since neither of them had an idea for what the new coronavirus was.

“No. Other than it might have related a long time ago to the SARS incident,” Yerex said.

Story continues below advertisement

Not long after docking in Japan, the two were tested by masked staff members despite feeling fine.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“Both Greg and I have felt fine this whole time. So we’re what they refer to as people who had tested positive but were asymptomatic.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario couple ‘would like to go home’ after quarantine on Diamond Princess cruise ship
Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario couple ‘would like to go home’ after quarantine on Diamond Princess cruise ship

After enduring a piece of swab down her throat, Yerex said the results came back three days later on Feb. 18 with her test coming back negative and Greg’s returning positive.

However, a day later, she was told there was a mistake and she was also in fact confirmed to have the infection.

That’s when the fear set in, according to Yerex.

READ MORE: Officials urge Canadians to ‘avoid all cruise ship travel’ over COVID-19 risk

Story continues below advertisement

“Yeah. Not only because of my age but because I do have asthma and I’ve had pneumonia. A number of times.”

After testing positive, Rose and Greg were transferred to a Japanese military facility off the ship.

“There is no treatment for this virus. There is nothing they can do. They can only treat the symptoms,” said Yerex.

“You’re in quarantine and they give you time for your body to try and fight it off and get rid of it. And occasionally they would come along and swab you to check to see how it’s doing.”

Yerex said testing at that point became more advanced and more uncomfortable through the use of nasal swabs.

“It was like a Q-Tip and you shove it up your nose, twirl it around, and it goes right up almost into your sinus cavity. So, yeah, very, very uncomfortable.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Last crew members leave quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship

At no point during the quarantine did Yerex or her husband suffer any symptoms of the virus, and the two were released after a negative test at the end of February.

The pair then flew home to Toronto where they were cleared by public health, undertaking a self-imposed quartine to ensure no family members could pick up the virus from the pair.

Story continues below advertisement

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato and the government of Japan have been much criticized for the handling of the quarantine in which more than a fifth of the ship’s original population infected with COVID-19.

Kato said the government would investigate the handling of the cruise ship after more than a dozen passengers returning home after a 14-day quarantine tested positive for the virus, with six eventually dying.

READ MORE: COVID-19: 2 former Diamond Princess cruise passengers died from virus, Japan says

Despite a rough ride, Rose isn’t ruling out going on another cruise in the future.

“Oh, absolutely. I love it. Just not right away, though,” said Yerex, “Being here is much nicer there’s a lot more room to walk around in.”

Story continues below advertisement

With files from the Canadian Press