CORNWALL, Ontario – During the early morning hours of Friday, Feb. 21, 129 Canadians who were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship stepped onto home soil.
Since early February, the ship has been quarantined in Yokohama, Japan due to an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Two passengers of the ship, both in their 80s and from Japan, have since died after becoming infected.
The 129 passengers who arrived around 2 a.m. today tested negative for the virus, were screened again at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton, and were then transported to the Nav Centre to begin their 14-day quarantine period. Five buses transported the passengers to the Centre, where a portion of the property has donned fences and tented stations.
“None of the passengers exhibited symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) upon arrival,” read a statement from Global Affairs Canada. “They will undergo the same medical assessment and observation as those who were repatriated earlier this month from Wuhan, China.”
According to Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam, the Canadians from the first repatriation who are currently quarantined at CFB Trenton do not pose a significant risk to public health.
It has been reported that flight crew members will also be quarantined but potentially for a shorter time period depending on the level of risk.
Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement, local MP Eric Duncan and Kim Coe-Turner, General Manager of the Nav Centre, were all taken by surprise when a press release announced the quarantine during the evening of Saturday, Feb. 15.
“Cornwall did not get to choose to have this quarantine here, but we do get to choose how we react to this,” said Mayor Clement in an opening statement during a press conference on Monday, Feb. 17.
“The Government of Canada continues to work with provincial, territorial and local health authorities to ensure that the returning Canadians and their family members receive all the medical and ongoing support necessary to protect their health and the health and safety of all Canadians,” read a Global Affairs statement on Friday, Feb. 21.
A press conference is set to take place on Friday, Feb. 21 with more information. Seaway News will release a story on the press conference later Friday.