Elderly passengers transferred from quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Japanese officials have chosen 11 passengers aboard a quarantined cruise ship to finish their screening on land, prioritizing those over the age of 80, people with medical conditions or those who were staying in windowless rooms.

At least 218 passengers, including 12 Canadians, have tested positive for COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess and transferred to hospital. But more than 2,600 people remain stuck on board.

Canadians Greg and Rose Yerex are still hoping to leave the vessel.

“I can’t think of anybody ever passing Valentine’s Day together with their husband in this kind of situation,” Rose told CTV’s Omar Sachedina.

The Ontario couple, married for 35 years, were treated to a special meal and a rose from crewmembers to celebrate.

The quarantine is due to be lifted Wednesday.

“We can’t even book flights home because we don’t know exactly how, where and when we’re getting out of here,” Rose said.

To help with medical updates about the spread of the virus onboard, 2,000 smartphones have been distributed to all rooms.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government said at least one person involved in transporting passengers from the cruise ship has been infected with COVID-19.

Representatives from Canada, three from the public health agency and two armed forces medical personnel, have been dispatched to help.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philip Champagne said about 250 Canadians on a separate cruise ship off the shore of Cambodia, the Westerdam, have tested negative for the coronavirus and will be returned to Canada at the expense of the cruise line, Holland America. 

And in China, the army has deployed 4,000 medics to the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan.

Beijing has ordered anyone returning to the capital to self-quarantine for two weeks.

This weekend the World Health Organization begins a joint mission with China to focus on how the virus is spreading.

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