Toronto couple freed from coronavirus cruise ship quarantine, now back in Canada

Toronto couple freed from coronavirus cruise ship quarantine, now back in Canada

There might not be anyone in the world as happy to see a non-descript Cornwall, Ont. hotel room as Diana and Allan Chow.

After weeks quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan because of an outbreak of coronavirus, the couple is finally back in Ontario.

They're still under quarantine for another 14 days, so the Chows can't go home to Toronto just yet — but their relief is still palpable.

"I think the welcoming party in Trenton and also in Cornwall … it was beautiful," Diana Chow told CBC News.

"They looked after us, they provided stuff for us. It's a good feeling."

The Chows were among the 129 passengers on a charter plane that landed in Trenton just after 2 a.m. Friday. They had been quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, since early February due to an outbreak of COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus.

All repatriated passengers on the chartered flight had tested negative for the virus, but were screened again in Trenton before boarding five buses destined for the NAV Centre to be quarantined, according to Health Canada officials.

The NAV Centre is a hotel, conference and community centre that has previously been used by the federal government as an emergency shelter.

Matthew Kupfer/CBC

Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement welcomed passengers in a statement shortly after buses began arriving, saying "our hearts are with you and we hope the quarantine period passes quickly and as comfortably as possible.

"We know that you find yourselves in extraordinarily difficult circumstances and that it is impossible for us to imagine how we might feel if we were in your shoes," she wrote. "But our hope is that you are relieved and uplifted to be on Canadian soil."

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, said passengers in quarantine will undergo twice-daily medical checkups and will also have access to mental health support.

WATCH: Cruise ship passengers arrive in Cornwall

For the Chows, this is a chance to finally take a breath, as the stress of being on the boat finally wanes.

"We'll feel the pain, the sorrow, the mixed emotions will come," Diana Chow said.

Forty-seven Canadians who were on board the ship tested positive for COVID-19. Those passengers were not allowed to board the charter flight, and are in isolation at Japanese health facilities.

Healthy Canadian passengers who choose to leave Japan by their own means will also face a mandatory up to quarantine period of up to 14 days upon their arrival in Canada, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Thursday.

On Friday, the Canadian Red Cross announced it was sending a team to Japan to offer support to the Canadians who are being treated there.

The Chows say their next vacation likely won't be a cruise.

"I've spent enough jail time for doing no crime," Allan Chow said with a laugh.

"They'd have to pay me before I'd go again."