Canadian passengers who were stranded in Japan for more than two weeks on board the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship have begun a 14-day quarantine after arriving in Canada earlier today, federal officials said.
A plane chartered by the federal government brought 129 Canadians to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton in Ontario in the early hours of Friday. None of the passengers exhibited symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) upon arrival, according to federal officials.
Upon landing, the returning passengers were screened by quarantine officers and then met by officers from the Canada Border Services Agency.
They were then transported from Trenton to the NAV Centre in Cornwall, Ontario, where they will spend 14 days under quarantine. They will undergo the same medical assessment and observation as those who were repatriated earlier this month from Wuhan, China, officials said.
“The returning Canadians have been through a stressful experience over the past couple of weeks,” federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement.
“During their quarantine in Canada, we will offer support for both their mental and physical well-being. We will also continue with measures to protect the general population from exposure to the virus.”
The risk to Canadians, including those living or working in the communities in and around Cornwall, remains low, she added.
There were 256 Canadians on the cruise ship, quarantined in Yokohama and 47 of them have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, officials said.
Only Canadians and permanent residents from the ship who did not test positive for the virus were eligible to board the chartered flight.
It’s not yet clear why only 129 Canadians and family members boarded the return flight.
Canadian passengers on Diamond Princess, who chose not to return on the charter flight, would have to complete the quarantine being administered by Japan and follow the instructions of local authorities, said Barbara Harvey, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada.
“Canadians seeking to return to Canada by commercial means will be subject to the Quarantine Act upon their return, in line with a determination to be made by the Public Health Agency of Canada,” she added.
In the meantime, the Canadians who were airlifted to CFB Trenton from Wuhan completed their quarantine and began leaving the military base Friday.