Fort Langley man under quarantine in California after Diamond Princess evacuation
VANCOUVER -- A Fort Langley resident who holds a passport from the United States managed to board an American government charter flight for people quarantined aboard a cruise ship in Japan where COVID-19 continues to spread amongst passengers.
"I am just happy. I'm hoping that my temperature continues to stay under control," said Spencer Fehrenbacher in a video he sent to CTV News. "Hoping that I don't start coughing. That I don't test positive, basically."
Fehrenbacher will have to remain in quarantine in California for another 14 days before being allowed to leave, if he remains healthy.
There are still 256 Canadians on board that cruise, the Diamond Princess, who are unable to leave until a plane chartered by the Canadian government arrives in Tokyo to bring them back home.
As of Tuesday, 43 of those passengers are confirmed sick and may not be able to board that charter flight.
Federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said the chartered flight will arrive later this week to repatriate those that want to come back to Canada.
When asked why it has taken the government nearly two weeks to take this course of action, Hajdu said it is a balancing act.
“I understand the frustration but we are working as quickly as we can. Obviously, we have to consider the protection of the Canadians back in Canada, as well as the Canadians stuck in those unfortunate situation,” she said.
Meanwhile, Fehrenbacher said he is relieved to leave the confines of the cruise ship’s cabin.
“We have a giant fenced-off yard; we can walk anytime we want. As far as the accommodation here, I’m just happy,” he said.
But fears of the virus are still on his mind.
When Fehrenbacher landed in California with about 300 others, he learned that a dozen people aboard his flight had tested positive for the virus.
"Knowing that there were people with the virus sitting right next to you, sitting right behind you, for 10-12 hours is very disconcerting," he said.
"But I'm here. I'm going to stay optimistic and I'm just keeping hope alive that I don't develop symptoms over the course of the next couple of weeks."
He said the accommodations at the US military base where he is now are more spacious than his cruise ship cabin and the Americans are letting the people who are quarantined go outside for light exercise in a fenced-off area.