First batch of CFB Trenton quarantines coming to an end

An Ottawa man who's been holed up at Yukon Lodge with his parents in a dorm-like room is getting set for their release on Friday.

14 days of isolation to try to avoid spread of coronavirus are wrapping up

Yukon Lodge at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton was the quarantine location for Canadians evacuated from China due to the outbreak of COVID-19. (Alex Filipe/Reuters)

After 13 days under quarantine in a dorm-like room at CFB Trenton, an Ottawa man is preparing to leave the Yukon Lodge, get some privacy and tackle a pile of work.

The man is among more than 200 people who should be released from quarantine on Friday after returning from the epicentre of the coconavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China.

"It feels great. I've made it," he said on CBC's Ottawa Morning. "I've been worried about getting any symptoms, and I think so far nobody has shown any, so it's great."

CBC has agreed to protect his identity because he has family in China that he worries would face repercussions over his decision to speak publicly. 

Throughout the almost two weeks of quarantine to try to ensure they wouldn't be infectious, he's remained positive.

"You've got to make a choice, right? You can get angry at whatever you want, but it's not going to make it any better. So look on the bright side of things."

The Canadians under quarantine after being airlifted from Wuhan, China, share how they’re adjusting to their temporary living situation at CFB Trenton. 1:59

The evacuees were encouraged to keep their distance, so there wasn't much contact or even conversation.

"We see each other. We've been having visual interaction," he said. 

Parents are roommates

The 290-room Yukon Lodge about 170 kilometres east of Toronto was built for military personnel and their family.

The Ottawan has had lots of forced alone time with his parents because he's shared a room with them.

"It's pretty crowded and inconvenient, but you get used to it maybe by 10 days in."

So, are they still talking?

"A couple sentences a day," said the man, with a chuckle. "We have our own corners of the room."

The man's wife is still in China and was not allowed to return with her husband because she's not a Canadian citizen.

"She's a little bit bored and … she wishes she could be here. I wish she could be here as well."

Despite the lack of contact with the others, there was a sense they were experiencing a unique event together.

They were allowed to exercise outside in the courtyard, as long as they kept two metres apart from one another. 

They were also given books to read to help pass the time. His choice? The political crisis of the Suez Canal in 1956.

CBC News was sent these photos of what those Canadians in quarantine are being fed at CFB Trenton. (Photo supplied by Lie Zhang)

He's also been reading academic papers about the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, the respiratory illness that's infected more than 74,000 people in China and another 924 around the world, according to the World Health Organization.

That somewhat fits with the job he's getting back to: he has a fellowship at an American university, where he studies biology.

He said the first thing he wants to do when he's out of the lodge is get caught up on work.

"I've got to get back into my life. I have a lot of work piled up from being on an unexpected vacation. That's been on my mind since the beginning."

He compared his "forced vacation" to being on a cruise ship and said he's been following the story of the Diamond Princess cruise, which had its own outbreak of the coronavirus.

"I feel really bad for them. I'm sure it's much worse than what we have here, considering they have many active cases."

Some passengers look out from the balcony of the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship at a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. Hundreds of passengers began leaving the cruise ship Wednesday after the end of a much-criticized, two-week quarantine that failed to stop the spread of a new virus among passengers and crew. (Eugene Hoshiko/The Associated Press)

Canadian passengers from that cruise ship that don't show any symptoms will go into their own quarantine at the Nav Centre in Cornwall after a brief stop to get checked in Trenton.

His advice?

"Try to clarify your rooming situation up front," because sharing a room could make their experience "much better or much worse."

He said in retrospect, he would have preferred a single room.

With files from CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning