Montreal

Quebec couple stuck on quarantined cruise decry 'improvised' health and safety measures

Manon Trudel and Julien Bergeron have been stuck inside their windowless room aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, docked at a Japanese port amid a COVID-19 quarantine, for the past eight days, without news from Canadian officials on when they may be able to get off. 

Manon Trudel and Julien Bergeron both have respiratory issues, worry about possibility of contracting COVID-19

Manon Trudel and her partner Julien Bergeron have been quarantined on a cruise ship in Yokotoma, Japan for over a week. (Submitted by Manon Trudel)

Manon Trudel and Julien Bergeron have been stuck inside their windowless room aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, docked at a Japanese port amid a COVID-19 quarantine, for the past eight days, without news from Canadian officials on when they may be able to get off. 

Every couple of days, Trudel and Bergeron have been given an hour to venture out on one of the cruise's decks to walk around and breathe in some fresh air, something they say is severely lacking in their room. 

"The air in the room, it's not very fresh, it's not very good," Bergeron said. 

The couple hails from the Montérégie region, and Trudel teaches health and safety at the Cégep de Sorel-Tracy. 

"So, I have the chance — or misfortune, rather — of seeing at what point the measures onboard are improvised," she said. 

Trudel says the ship's staff have been giving the more than 3,500 passengers inconsistent directives on what precautions to take. For example, on some days, passengers are told to wear gloves. On others, they're not, she said.  

Not all passengers have the same types of masks, some of which are less effective than others, Trudel added. 

The ship's captain has been delivering messages to passengers by intercom three to four times a day. Tuesday, the couple learned there were nearly 40 new reported cases of the coronavirus on the boat. 

The update brings the total found on the Diamond Princess to 174 cases, including at least seven Canadians. 

"We don't know how many people they have tested, though," Trudel said, noting passengers are asked to check their bodily temperature every two hours and to notify medical services if it rises above 37.5 degrees. 

Julien Bergeron, left, and Manon Trudel are quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise at a Japanese port. (Facebook Messenger screenshot)

Bergeron and Trudel spoke with CBC News through an online video chat. They joked and laughed about the situation, but said it has been wearing on them. 

"It's very stressful," Trudel said, adding it wouldn't be the best Valentine's Day the couple of 24 years has ever shared. 

"It's very difficult for a couple, in one room all the time together."

Underlying health issues worry couple

She said both of them have respiratory issues which has made them even more worried about the possibility of contracting the virus.

Bergeron suffered from pneumonia last year and Trudel has had tuberculosis in the past. 

They say they have not heard back from Canadian officials, despite making calls to the embassy in Japan. 

"[On the news,] Canada says it's talking to people, that it's in control, but we know absolutely nothing," Bergeron said. 

Japan's Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the government was considering testing everyone remaining on board and crew on the Diamond Princess, which would require them to remain aboard until results were available. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

They're wondering how much longer they will have to spend on the boat, and if they will have to be under another quarantine once they get back on Canadian soil. 

"Today, the staff brought us a bottle of 300 vitamins that you're supposed to take once a day," Bergeron said, laughing. 

"Does that mean we're still here for 150 days?"

with files from Isaac Olson

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