(Photo submitted by Brian Losie)

A Sidney resident who had embarked on a pleasant cruise ship vacation with his wife and has now been quarantined in Trenton, ON has a message for Victoria.

Brian Losie and his wife Peggy were travelling in Mexico and Hawaii aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship when an outbreak of COVID-19 was detected after 21 people tested positive for the virus.

After a six day quarantine on the ship, the couple was one of several Canadians air lifted to an isolation base in Trenton, ON.

During their 14-day quarantine period, Losie has been following the COVID-19 pandemic on the news and decided to take action.

“Following the news of escalating protocols to contain the virus, we realize it will have a major impact on businesses small and large,” he said in an email to Victoria Buzz.

“To that end, I am acquiring gift certificates from Sidney Retail merchants I frequent to provide a little cash flow during these difficult times.”

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

Losie is encouraging his fellow Victoria residents to do the same in an effort to support local businesses during the pandemic while still maintaining social distancing measures.

Aftermath of the ‘Grand Princess cruise from hell’

Losie and his wife have been living in Sidney for 12 years.

This winter, they decided to get away from the cold by taking a cruise trip down to Mexico and Hawaii. Little did they know, it would turn out to be a “cruise from hell”, in Losie’s own words.

The Grand Princess cruise ship was scheduled to dock in Victoria but when the COVID-19 outbreak was first detected, the vessel was redirected and docked at the Port of Oakland.

Canadian citizens were one of the first groups to disembark. Losie records his experience arriving at CFB Trenton on March 9th, describing the accommodations as “Motel 6-like”.

“We arrived here on March 9th via chartered Kalitta Air 747 freighter and cleared customs and health checks (temperature and questionnaires) at a hanger in CFB Trenton,” he writes.

“We were assigned numbered wristbands (I was 9 and Peggy was 10) and assigned a room in one of three lodges; Canso, Hercules, and Yukon and the 250+ former cruisers were distributed among the three buildings”

Upon arrival, all quarantined former cruise passengers were given a welcome information package by Canadian Red Cross personnel which included a 24/7 phone line.

Life in quarantine

Losie provides a detailed record of daily life at the base, going on to say that the people looking after them have done everything they possibly can to make their stay more tolerable.

According to him, each quarantined “household” has access to a phone, television, internet, and kitchen appliances.

Twice a day, nurses from the Canadian Public Health Services visit each room to monitor temperatures and general health conditions.

Hot meals are delivered to each room three times a day by Red Cross volunteers and staff. A small commissary with coffee, tea, and snacks was also available to residents, but had to shut down to increase social distancing measures after eight people tested positive for COVID-19.

Residents, or “inmates” as Losie calls them, of each lodge are given four one-hour exercise periods per day. These hours are staggered so as to increase social distancing, and everyone is required to wear a mask when they leave their rooms.

“Medications that are required are obtained by CRC and delivery is prompt. I contacted them in the morning and a 3 week supply of my meds arrived that afternoon sourced from a local druggist,” adds Losie.

Every other day, commercial cleaners in isolation suits are sent to each room to clean and disinfect them.

The Grand Princess crew and passengers are the fifth cohort to be served at CFB Trenton after three groups from Hubei province, China and another group from the Diamond Princess cruise ship were quarantined at the same base.

Quarantined residents expect to receive a letter clearing them of COVID-19 from the Minister of Health on or around March 24th, after which authorities will be arranging trips home for everyone.

Losie’s main concern at this point is to with uncertainties surrounding the couple’s travel back home.

There is no information currently available on whether passengers will be transported to their places of residence in isolation or whether they will be taking commercial flights.

In the event of the latter, Losie is concerned about contracting coronavirus from another traveller on an aircraft after already having gone through weeks of quarantine.

“We’ve served our time,” he says.

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