Canada to repatriate citizens on coronavirus-hit cruise ship in California

08 Mar 2020 | Canada | 58 |
Canada to repatriate citizens on coronavirus-hit cruise ship in California

Canada has secured a plane in its effort to repatriate Canadians on board the coronavirus-hit Grand Princess cruise ship which is currently quarantined off the coast of California, Global Affairs said in a statement on Sunday.

"The plane will bring passengers from San Francisco to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, after which they will be assessed and undergo a 14-day quarantine," the statement read.

"Given our shared border, Canada recognizes the importance of working together with the United States to limit the spread of COVID-19 within North America and abroad."

The Grand Princess cruise ship — where 19 crew members and two passengers have tested positive for the virus — was headed to the port of Oakland, Calif., after idling off San Francisco for days. There is evidence the ship was the breeding ground for a deadly cluster of almost 20 cases during an earlier voyage.

"Those that will need to be quarantined will be quarantined," U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said. "Those who will require medical help will receive it."

The ship, which is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries, including 237 Canadians, is expected to reach Oakland on Monday.

The port at Oakland was chosen because of its proximity to an airport and a military base, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said. He said it could take up to three days to prepare the port site and get everyone off the ship.

The crew will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship, which will dock elsewhere, Newsom said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said it was "working closely with the home countries of several hundred passengers to arrange for repatriation to their countries."

It also said American passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship will be taken to military bases in California, Texas and Georgia to be tested for the COVID-19 virus and to spend a 14-day quarantine.

A second cruise ship was being held in the U.S. on Sunday, this one off the coast of Florida. The Regal Princess was supposed to dock in Port Everglades on Sunday morning but was instead sailing up and down the coast, the Miami Herald reported.

The ship is awaiting test results on whether two crew members who transferred there from the Grand Princess have contracted the new coronavirus. The Coast Guard delivered testing kits to the Regal Princess Sunday morning and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a "no-sail order" for the ship.

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It is not immediately clear if there are Canadians onboard.

The U.S. death toll from the virus is at 21, with all but three victims in Washington state. The number of infections swelled to more than 400, scattered across the U.S.

New cases in Canada
In Canada, Ontario's chief medical officer of health said Sunday there's a new case of COVID-19, meaning that there are now 29 confirmed cases of the illness in the province.

Dr. David Williams said the latest patient is a woman in her 40s who recently returned to Toronto after a trip to Colorado. He said the woman is currently at home in self-isolation and Toronto Public Health is tracing people with whom she was in contact.

Quebec's health department has announced another presumptive case, bringing the total of confirmed and presumptive cases in the province to four. There are currently two confirmed cases in Quebec as well as two presumptive cases, which still need to be confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.

The new case was detected in the Montérégie region, southeast of Montreal, in a person who returned from a cruise. Authorities say they're still working to track the patient's movements.

Alberta's top medical official announced two new presumptive cases in the province. The province is now dealing with three presumptive cases and one confirmed case of COVID-19.

"All the cases of COVID-19 to date are travel-related and recovering in isolation at home with support from public health officials. As soon as these cases were identified last night, we took immediate action to protect the public," said Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

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Himshaw said three of the four patients are connected to the Grand Princess cruise ship.

She said the fourth is a person who came in close contact with someone who had recently travelled in Europe.

There are 59 confirmed cases in Canada — including 27 confirmed in B.C. — and five presumptive. CBC