Winnipeg woman in self-isolation following 8-day cruise, tested for COVID-19
WINNIPEG -- A Winnipeg woman said she’s in self-isolation after coming home from an eight-day cruise and exhibiting symptoms.
Jennifer Maw, was on the Carnival Magic out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with her mother and father, two aunts, her sister and nephew. Her husband, who is city councillor Shawn Nason, and her children were not on the cruise.
The ship travelled to St. Maarten, Tortola, San Juan and Grand Turk. The cruise began on Feb. 29 and ended on March 8. Maw flew home from Florida on March 9.
Maw said they were told there’d be enhanced screening when they arrived at the cruise ship due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19. The screening involved a short survey asking them if they had any fever, cold or flu-like symptoms.
“So you filled it out yourself and they took that in and collected it when we boarded,” she explained.
The final port in Grand Turk was also cancelled. Maw said the ship arrived as scheduled, but there was a delay. Then an announcement came on about 45 minutes after they were supposed to disembark at 10 a.m. saying the ship hadn’t been cleared for arrival and they were working with officials to get the clearance.
Maw said at 12:45 p.m. they were told “there were a number of passengers on board exhibiting flu-like symptoms, but did not meet the criteria for the COVID-19 testing, but officials at Grand Turk were erring on the side of caution and would not allow us to disembark at the port."
She noted they also learned there were a minimum of two COVID-19 cases in St. Maarten, where they had visited earlier in the trip.
“We were told that was part of the apprehension on Grand Turk’s part, that we had been to an island where there were known cases,” Maw said.
Maw noted that on the final Saturday of the cruise there was a “noticeable change” on the ship, explaining that people couldn’t just proceed as usual through the buffet line.
“Everything was staffed and people would hand you your plates and hand you your cutlery and serve you your food, whereas the day previous and the rest of the days on the cruise you would normally just self-serve. So there was that change.”
Maw said she wasn’t concerned about COVID-19 while on the trip.
“There’s obviously been lots in the media to feed anybody who wants to become overly concerned about these things,” she said.
“I found the enhanced screening to be a little bit superficial and the first six days of the cruise were like any other cruise we’ve been on, so the incident at Grand Turk obviously raised a few eyebrows, but I fully respect the processes of the ship and the officials on the island.”
As for the other passengers, Maw said there was a bit of chatter about COVID-19.
“You would often get a glance or somebody looking at you or stepping away when somebody was coughing,” noting that cruise lines have been relaxing their cancellation policies. She said the cruise still felt full, but she thinks people did have the opportunity to cancel without penalty if they were really concerned about COVID-19.
Maw said after the incident in Grand Turk they did see a few more people wearing rubber gloves in the casino when using the machines, but there was “nothing obvious to say that there was an increase in concern about it or that people were worried."
When Maw arrived back in Winnipeg she called Health Links to seek guidance as she’s experiencing runny, puffy, weeping eyes, a runny nose and a dry cough. She told them where she had travelled to, what transpired on the ship and the fact she was experiencing symptoms. Health Links then recommended she go to urgent care, and she received COVID-19 testing.
“So I’m currently in self-isolation, to use their terms, waiting for the test results to come back,” said Maw, noting it’s not uncommon for her to return from trip with a cold or the flu.
She said she didn’t return home worried she had COVID-19.
“I respect Health Links process and policies and I know that people are being cautious about it,” she said.
“It’s better to be cautious about it given the increase in number of cases that we are experiencing. So to me this is just following standard protocol.”
Maw's husband Coun. Nason took to Twitter to say his risk of exposure is minimal.
"I am taking steps limiting my contact (with) the public and Council Colleagues as best as possible while still performing my duties until such times as the results have been returned for my wife's test," Nason tweeted.
On Monday, CTV News reported that the Public Health Agency of Canada recommended that Canadians avoid cruise ship travel due to COVID-19.