Canadian cruise passengers who test negative for COVID-19 leaving ship

The latest:

  • Canadians who pass medical screening expected to disembark Diamond Princess today.
  • 47 Canadians among the more than 630 people from the cruise ship to test positive for COVID-19.
  • Local media report that 2 Japanese passengers who tested positive for coronavirus have died.
  • Charter flight for eligible Canadians expected to leave Friday.

Canadian passengers aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan who have not tested positive for COVID-19 are expected to disembark today ahead of a charter flight that’s scheduled to leave Tokyo on Friday.

There are 256 Canadians on the ship, which has been docked in Yokohama since early February. Of those, 47 have tested positive for COVID-19, Global Affairs Canada said.

A charter flight to repatriate Canadians and permanent residents who have not tested positive is expected to leave Friday morning Tokyo time.

‘Our bags are packed’

Alberta woman Lolita Wiesner, who has been in quarantine on the ship along with her husband, posted on Facebook Thursday saying they had been checked by nurses and passed a pre-flight screening.

“Our bags are packed and outside the cabin. We have fresh masks. Now we just wait until we’re called,” her post said.

Allan and Diana Chow, an Ontario couple who were also on the Diamond Princess, have been eager to get off the ship, which Allan previously described as a “floating jailhouse.”

The pair, who have been sending photos back to their daughter in Toronto who then posts to Twitter, said they are off the ship and heading to buses that will take them to the airport.

The plane is set to land at CFB Trenton in Ontario, as did previous repatriation flights that brought people back to Canada from Wuhan, China — the epicentre of the outbreak. From there, the Diamond Princess returnees will be transported to the NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ont.

Global Affairs said that if space allowed, non-Canadian immediate family of citizens and permanent residents would be allowed on the flight to allow families to stay together.

WATCH: Canada’s foreign minister speaks Wednesday about what passengers can expect

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne says Canadians on board the quarantined “Diamond Princess” will be flown back to Canada tomorrow evening – but only those without symptoms will be allowed to board. 2:18

If people choose not to return home on the charter flight, GAC said they would have to finish the quarantine being run by health officials in Japan and follow local instructions.

“Canadians seeking to return to Canada by commercial means will be subject to the Quarantine Act upon their return, in line with a determination to be made by the Public Health Agency of Canada,” the statement read, though it did not say exactly what that would mean for those who elect not to board the charter.

Cruise ship case numbers increase

On Thursday, Japan said another 13 people from the ship had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to more than 630.

The increase came after local media reported that two Japanese citizens in their 80s who had contracted the virus while on the ship died. Kyodo News cited the health ministry as saying 29 of the people from the ship who tested positive for the virus are in serious condition. 

Hundreds of passengers who were cleared were able to get off the ship on Wednesday, the first batch of travellers to leave the ship after the two-week quarantine ended.

The coronavirus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, apparently in a wildlife market, and has now infected some 75,000 people and killed about 2,100.

The vast majority of cases and deaths have been in China, and more specifically Hubei province, of which Wuhan is capital, but the global spread appears inexorable.

WATCH: CBC’s Saša Petricic reports from Japan as the first group of passengers disembark

Passengers who tested negative for the coronavirus were able to leave the Diamond Princess cruise ship where they had been quarantined for two weeks, a move experts say turned the vessel into an uncontrolled breeding ground for the illness. 2:54

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