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As Canadians from cruise ship fly home, those who tested positive can only wait
TORONTO -- As a plane of relieved Canadians evacuated from the virus-plagued cruise ship in Japan flies back home, dozens of others are being left behind.
Rose and Greg Yerex from Port Dover, Ont. tested positive for COVID-19 in their final days aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship. The federal government has said it is better for them and dozens of other infected Canadians to be treated locally in Japan rather than return home with the virus.
“Both my husband and I are actually physically feeling great,” Rose Yerex told CTV News Channel from their hospital room in Nagoya.
Despite testing positive, the couple has not shown any signs of the illness and is being kept in a section of the hospital dedicated to patients without symptoms. Even though they were not deemed well enough to fly home, they don’t require medical treatment.
“The problem is that there’s no treatment for this. We are asymptomatic, so what you can only really do is treat the symptoms -- if there are any -- and basically let this this run its course,” Rose Yerex said.
Forty-seven of the 250 Canadians on the ship tested positive for the virus. The total number of cases on board the ship was 634, or roughly one in six of the 3,700 people on board.
Rose and Greg were surprised to end up in the hospital together. Initially, Greg tested positive for the virus, but Rose was negative. They planned on having Rose return to Canada while Greg stayed in Japan for treatment.
Then, on one of the final days of quarantine, Rose was tested again. Her results came back positive.
It was difficult news, especially after 14 days sequestered in their cabin.
“It was a total surprise and we had maybe a couple hours’ notice so I could pack up,” she said.
Greg described the experience as “surreal.”
“It’s like my whole world is topsy-turvy, because what I should be doing and what I want to be doing, I can’t do.”
While the Yerexes remain in Japan, their friend Kate Bedding is on her way back home to Canada. Bedding and the other evacuees were tested on the ship one last time by Canadian medical personnel Friday before being given the all-clear to fly home.
The Canada-bound flight left Tokyo International Airport at 4:30 a.m. local time and is scheduled to land in Trenton at 4 a.m. EDT on Friday.
Once home, evacuees will undergo more testing at a military base in Trenton, Ont. before being relocated to a hotel and conference centre in Cornwall, Ont. for another two weeks of quarantine.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said it’s possible that some evacuees may be able to leave quarantine sooner than the designated two-week period if they continue to test negative for the virus and don’t have any symptoms. Hajdu said that will be determined by the chief public health officer of Canada on a case-by-case basis.
Bedding admits that leaving her friends behind was difficult.
“I’m leaving my two friends here in Japan, and I’m a little hesitant to leave without them,” Bedding said, becoming emotional.
Two cruise ship passengers – a Japanese man and woman in their 80s – have died in hospital, officials confirmed Thursday. Their deaths are the first from the ship.
Globally, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 2,100 people and infected 76,000 others since it was identified on New Year’s Eve.