Visitors walk past the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on February 16, 2020. The daughter of a Quebec couple who contracted the novel coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan says her parents can come home after testing negative for the virus. Chantal Menard says she learned early this morning that her mother was being discharged from hospital after a second test confirmed she no longer had the illness. Her father tested negative last Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jae C. Hong

Quebec couple who got coronavirus on cruise ship to come home, daughter says

Diane and Bernard Menard, in their 70s, were among the more than 700 who contracted COVID-19 aboard the ship

A Quebec couple who contracted the novel coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan will soon be on their way home after testing negative for the virus, their daughter said Sunday.

Chantal Menard said she learned early in the morning that her mother was being discharged from hospital after a second test confirmed she no longer had the illness. Her father tested negative last Wednesday.

Diane and Bernard Menard, who are in their 70s, were among the more than 700 people who contracted COVID-19 aboard the ship, which has been docked in Yokohama since early February.

Their daughter said the news was welcome after weeks of worry and frantic calls to consular officials.

“We’re very happy because at one moment we lost hope, but you can’t ever lose hope,” she said in a phone interview.

Menard said her parents were on the last day of their month-long tour of Asia when they learned the boat was under quarantine.

The couple from Gatineau, Que. tested positive in mid-February and were transported to a Japanese military hospital with symptoms including coughing and fever.

Menard said the couple will spend the next day or two in a hotel while the family organizes their trip home, but she hopes they’ll be back in Canada by Friday.

She said it’s unclear whether they’ll have to face another quarantine when they return, on top of the two they’ve already done in Japan. If so, she believes it will be at home.

“For sure we’ll go to the house to look at them through the curtains,” she said with a laugh. “We’ll set ourselves up on the outdoor patio and do a simultaneous toast.”

She says consular services and and the Canadian Red Cross have been helping the family.

Despite the family’s happiness, Menard said she still worries about other Canadians from the ship who remain in Japan.

“I hope it will send them a message of hope,” she said.

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Helen Moka, The Canadian Press


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