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Gatineau couple on quarantined coronavirus cruise ship

A Gatineau, Que., couple is among thousands of passengers on board a cruise ship quarantined off Japan because of multiple cases of coronavirus.

Thousands of passengers confined to their rooms off coast of Japan

Diane Ménard was able to visit China during her cruise in Asia. (Submitted by Chantal Ménard)

A month-long cruise in Asia has turned into a nightmare for Diane and Bernard Ménard, a retired couple from Gatineau, Que.

Their vessel, Diamond Princess, is under quarantine southwest of Tokyo for two weeks after positive cases of coronavirus were confirmed on board.

"I'm tired. I feel stuck. Trapped," said Diane Ménard, in a French interview with Radio-Canada's Les matins d'ici. "We want to get off the boat, before we get infected, too."

The couple was due to return home on Tuesday.

By the end of the day Wednesday 20 people had tested positive, including two Canadians. The sick passengers were taken to hospital on Wednesday morning.

"We cannot go out. They bring us food. We just open the door. They're all wearing masks and gloves and leave right away."

"I have diabetes, so I need medication," said Diane Ménard. "And because I expected to be at home already, tomorrow is the last day that I have enough. I've been trying for three days to get more but I haven't had any response, so far."

The couple has been attempting to contact the ship's medical staff by sliding notes under the cabin door.

Bernard Ménard and his wife, Diane, are confined to their cabin aboard the cruiseship Diamond Princess for two weeks. Staff deliver their meals directly to their room. (Chantal Ménard/Facebook)

"Japanese officials have been on board for two days.They've been taking everyone's temperatures. And those people who have fevers, they've taken blood samples to analyze. That's how they found the first 10 cases. Today, they told us they found another 10. We've heard that one of those cases is a staff member," said Diane Ménard.

Nearly 3,700 passengers and crew including 251 Canadians are confined to the ship near the port of Yokohama.

The couple have been in contact with their daughter, Chantal Ménard, who also spoke to Radio-Canada.

"They don't have any symptoms at this moment, but they're afraid of becoming infected because of the close quarters on board," said Chantal Ménard in a French-language interview.

The coronavirus, which attacks the respiratory system, has killed 563 people in China since the new strain of the virus was confirmed about a month ago.

In a statement, cruise operator Princess Cruises said medical staff on board the ship are well-equipped to prevent and contain the spread of contagious illnesses, including the coronavirus.

Precautions staff are taking include isolating guests and crew members who show signs of illness and thoroughly cleaning the ship using disinfectant, the statement said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the risk in Canada from coronavirus is low. There have been five confirmed cases here, three in Ontario and two in British Columbia.

The virus can have more serious consequences in people with weaker immune systems, such as the elderly, and there's no vaccine.

"My mother said to me, 'Chantal, I am 75 years old. If it stops here, it stops here. I would have had a good life,'" their daughter said.

"It's come to that."

The Diamond Princess cruise ship approaches Daikoku Pier Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, where it will be resupplied and newly diagnosed coronavirus cases taken to hospital while it remains in quarantine off the port of Yokohama. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

"It's very stressful," said Diane Ménard. "The captain talks to us once a day. Today, he said they will let the people in the interior cabins go out on the deck for some air. But they must wear masks, and only in small groups at any one time. It's going to take 4 to 5 days before all the people get out for air. We have a window, but we'd like to get [on ​​​​​​deck] too, but it's going to take a lot of time."

"[My parents] would like to be sent home even if it means being quarantined," said Chantal Ménard.

A Hong Kong official says people on board another cruise ship that was turned away from a Taiwanese port will be quarantined until they are checked for the new virus. 

Information about the coronavirus outbreak is spreading fast, but what do we actually know about the illness? CBC News medical contributor and family physician Dr. Peter Lin breaks down the facts about what it is, where it came from, how it spreads and what you can do to protect yourself. 5:10

With files from Radio-Canada's Sur le Vif