Global Affairs Canada has confirmed to the Star that 32 Canadians on-board the Diamond Princess cruise ship have now tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. There are 256 Canadians on the ship.
An evacuation of Canadian passengers to a Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario is slated to take place soon, per Global Affairs.
In an earlier statement Global Affairs said that passengers would be screened before going on the evacuation aircraft, and those who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 would be transferred to the Japanese health-care system.
In an email to the Star on Monday night, Barbara Harvey, a spokesperson for Global Affairs, wrote that the government is “working closely with Princess Cruises and the Government of Japan to assist in this evacuation.”
“Currently 4 members of the Standing Rapid Deployment Team (SRDT), 3 experts from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and 7 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) medical personnel are being deployed to Japan to support the evacuation,” Harvey said.
Fifteen Canadians on-board the ship had previously tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
“The aircraft will bring passengers from Japan to a Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, after which passengers will be assessed and transported to the NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ontario, to undergo a further 14-day period of quarantine,” wrote Harvey.
Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be eligible for the flight. If there is space permitting on the aircraft, “non-Canadian immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents” will also be accommodated to prevent the separation of families, according to Harvey.
Those Canadians choosing not to return on the charter flight will be forced to “complete the current quarantine being administered by Japan and follow the instructions of local authorities.” Canadians seeking to return to Canada “by commercial means will be subject to the Quarantine Act upon their return.”
On Saturday, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said in a written statement that, “in light of the extraordinary circumstances facing our citizens on the Diamond Princess, we are taking action to return Canadians home from Japan, while ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to prevent and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.”
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