Ottawa

Cornwall, Ont., coronavirus quarantine has ended

Those under COVID-19 quarantine for the past two weeks in the eastern Ontario city of Cornwall finally have been cleared to head home.

More than 120 Canadians put in isolation after leaving cruise ship

Lee and 128 others left a 14-day quarantine in Cornwall, Ont., today after COVID-19 was found on their cruise ship 0:33

When Trudy Clement gets home later today, there will be a nice glass of wine waiting.

The Callander, Ont., woman has been under coronavirus quarantine with her husband at the Nav Centre in Cornwall, Ont., since they and more than 120 other Canadians  evacuated the Diamond Princess cruise ship last month.

But that time in isolation is coming to an end.

Those who've spent the past two weeks under medical observation in the eastern Ontario city have finally been cleared  to head home on buses to Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.

Clement and her husband planned to catch one of Friday morning's buses to the Ottawa airport, rent a car, and then drive roughly 350 kilometres back to their home outside North Bay, Ont.

"We have very good friends who've left us a cold bottle of wine at our house. And so I'm going to have a glass of wine when I get home, and somebody else has made us a big Italian dinner," she said.

"And we're just going to enjoy being home for a few days, before we decide to do anything else."

Trudy Clement walks out of the Nav Centre after 30 days in coronavirus quarantine — first aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and later in Cornwall. (Jean-François Poudrier/Radio-Canada)

They spent two weeks stuck on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess — a "luxury prison," as she previously described it — before boarding a plane chartered by the Canadian government.

When the plane touched down, she and the rest of her fellow evacuees began their unexpected stay at the Nav Centre, a hotel, conference and community centre on the shores of the St. Lawrence River that's previously been used by the federal government as an emergency shelter.

By the time she leaves, Clement said she'll have spent the past 30 days under some form of quarantine.

"That's a long time to not have your freedom … to choose what you want to do or where you want to go," she said Thursday, her last night at the Nav Centre.

"I find myself wanting to sleep a lot of it, just to make the time go fast. I keep busy with walking. I'm a walker so I listen to my music and walk the hallways when the weather's bad outside."

Jennifer Lee and her husband, Ben Yeung, were catching a bus from the Nav Centre to Montreal to catch a flight home to Vancouver. They have been away from home for almost two months.

Their temperatures were checked one last time and they passed as they have twice a day for the past two weeks.

Lee told CBC's Ottawa Morning early Friday it's been boring.

In addition to short walks outside, reading and watching TV, Lee's been working on her tai chi.

"Actually I [feel] that I'm better at it right now."

Questions about self-isolation

While in quarantine, Clement heard about cases involving people testing positive in the Toronto area for COVID-19 and then — to contain the spread of the respiratory illness — being sent into self-isolation at home.

That was frustrating to hear, she said, given they were cooped up at the Nav Centre, even without testing positive.

"We would have liked to come to Cornwall and be tested right away — and with two negative tests, then sent home. Because being here for two weeks, it's like you're sitting here, waiting to get sick," she said.

That never happened — and in fact, according to Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, none of the Canadians quarantined at the Nav Centre came down with the respiratory illness.

"During the quarantine period on the ship in Japan almost 20 per cent of the passengers got infected, so we were not confident that quarantine was enough," he said.

"Looking back I think the right decision was made."

He said the situation around the world has evolved since then, and the government's policy is now to ask people coming back from China's Hubei province and Iran to self-isolate.

"[The Diamond Princess] is a cluster of people that were all together and a completely different context."

Despite their quarantine experience, both on board the ship and in Cornwall, Vancouver's Lee and her husband are already planning their next cruise.

"The Princess cruise gave us a credit, so I think we're going to use that, but I think we'll wait until all of this passes. Maybe at the end of the year, then we'll look into going on another one." 

With files from Jennifer Chen, CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning and Radio-Canada's Antoine Trépanier

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