'Hallelujah!' Wuhan evacuees released from quarantine in Ontario
TRENTON, ONT. -- When Michael Schellenberg was freed from a coronavirus quarantine on Friday, his mission was clear: food and beer.
The Canadian man, who documented his journey from Wuhan lockdown with his wife Summer and their toddler Felix, opened Trip Advisor to find the best spot in Trenton, Ont., to acquire both.
The Italian restaurant on the Trent River where they ended up was a step above quarantine routine. He ordered a pizza and his son chewed on a lemon.
“I’ve never been to prison -- it was a lot more pleasant -- but that’s just kind of how it felt,” he told CTV News. The quarantine diet was “passable” but “not Michelin-star to stay the least,” he added.
On Friday, more than 200 Canadians who were flown out of Wuhan earlier this month were released from a 14-day quarantine at the Trenton military base. Globally, COVID-19 has killed 2,100 people and infected 76,000 others.
As the Trenton quarantine ended Friday, a new quarantine began in Cornwall, Ont., for 129 Canadians flown from Japan following high-profile coronavirus monitoring aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
None of those transported from Wuhan to Trenton exhibited symptoms of the virus on Friday and were released with a clean bill of health. Quarantined individuals pose no risk to others if they end the 14-day period free of symptoms, said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam in a statement.
“I want to assure Canadians that the risk of spread of the novel coronavirus within Canada remains low, including in those communities where repatriated Canadians will return following quarantine at CFB Trenton,” she said, adding that the Wuhan evacuees should not be treated any differently.
“I urge everyone to treat these repatriated Canadians with respect and compassion. Before they were able to return home, they dealt with an uncertain and stressful period living within the epicentre of this outbreak.”
Free from the base, Schellenberg was compelled to exclaim “Hallelujah!” in an interview with CTV News, the comfort of home sinking in.
“It feels great. Just being free, eating what I want to eat. Going out where I want to go. Seeing my fantastic family,” he said.
Quarantined couple Meghan Millward and Lie Zhang were relieved to be released too, but have their sights set on returning to China later this year if possible.
“We’re hoping that way earlier than next Chinese New Year, everything will be under control and we’ll be able to go back,” said Millward.
Zhang’s family in China has been in lockdown for several weeks, but have no symptoms. “I’m not super concerned right now. I told them ‘Don’t go out, just stay inside,’” he said.
“I have a lot of friends in Shanghai and Wuhan as well just telling me, ‘When this is over, let’s have a drink, eh?’”
The federal government will be helping all evacuees with transport to Toronto, but they will be expected to make their own travel plans home from there.