Coronavirus fears: Novato man finally returns home after being quarantined twice

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Retired airline pilot Rick Saber and his wife Aldeana are finally back in their Marin County home after their cruise ship vacation to Asia turned into a vacation nightmare.

The Sabers flew into SFO late Tuesday night. They had been quarantined at an Air Force Base in Texas for the last two weeks.

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The couple was aboard the Diamond Princess when it left Japan on Jan. 20 for a two-week cruise.

But just five days later a sick passenger was let off in Hong Kong and later tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 81-year-old Rick Saber says the ship then sailed back to Japan, where everyone was quarantined on board for 14 days.

Then they were flown on special charter flights to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield or Lackland in Texas. But the passengers weren't told which until the planes had taken off. Saber says passengers on his plane were surprised to discover they were headed to the Lone Star State.

"A big whoop went up and not a happy one because most of us on that flight actually live in the Bay Area," he said.

After arriving in Texas they were quarantined for another 14 days.

They showed no symptoms and planned to head home on Monday. But that's when the Mayor of San Antonio went to court to try to keep them from leaving the base, because of a mix-up over the weekend that released a woman who tested positive off the base and into the public.

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A judge denied the motion, but a compromise allowed them to leave Tuesday as long as they were bussed straight to the airport with no stops in town.

Friends welcomed the Sabers back home Tuesday night with signs and flowers and a joke gift in the fridge: a six-pack of Corona beer with a protective mask on top.

When I asked Saber if he was glad to finally be home, he responded - "in one word, damn right."

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