Global Affairs Canada says it is aware of at least 32 Canadians who have tested positive for the new coronavirus onboard Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that had been quarantined in Japan since the beginning of February.
“There are 256 Canadian cruise ship Diamond Princess,” Global Affairs said in an emailed statement Brampton-News Monday night.
“Of that number, we are aware of 32 Canadians who have been tested positive for the COVID-19 it.”
This statement came two days after the government announced it chartered a plane to evacuate Canadians on board, it said it took the decision “due to exceptional circumstances faced by passengers on the Diamond Princess and to ease the burden on the Japanese people’s health care system.”
An earlier report put the number of Canadians who tested positive for COVID-19 at the Diamond Princess, 15, and that they will remain in Japan for medical treatment.
More than 450 people on board – which has about 3,700 passengers – have tested positive for the virus, health officials said Japan, with 99 cases reported Monday.
In total, including 454 from the Diamond Princess, Japan has 520 confirmed cases of the virus, on Monday, according to Reuters. The ship is the site of the highest number of COVID-19 cases outside of China.
The cruise ship was ordered to stay under quarantine at the port of Yokohama on February 3, after a Hong Kong man of 80 years, who were on board from January 20 to January 25, developed the virus.
Two chartered planes carrying American passengers from the cruise ship landed at a military base in Texas and California over the weekend, triggering another 14-day quarantine for those on board.
The US State Department later reported that 14 of the refugees have received confirmed they had the virus but were allowed to board the flight because they have no symptoms. They were isolated separately from other passengers on the flight, the US State and Health and Human Services said in a joint statement.
Canada on the Diamond Princess is expected to undergo screening for symptoms in Japan before boarding a charter plane. Details of when the aircraft will fly there and back to Canada from a cruise rare.
A spokesman for Global Affairs says Canada in collaboration with Princess Cruises and the Japanese government “to assist in the evacuation,” and that the date “will be confirmed once the final arrangements will be confirmed with the Japanese government and the company yacht.”
The latest statement by Global Affairs reiterated that the Canadian charter plane will fly refugees to Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario., Where they will be assessed. They will then be brought to the NAC Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ont., For 14-day quarantine.
Anyone showing symptoms of the virus before boarding the plane in Japan will not be allowed onboard and will be transferred to the health care system in Japan instead.
“Currently, 4 members of the Rapid Deployment Team Standing (SRDT), three experts from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and 7 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) medical personnel are being deployed to Japan in support of the evacuation,” said Global Affairs in the statement.
Both citizens and permanent residents of Canada are eligible for charter flights.
“Immediate family members of Non-Canadian Canadian citizens and permanent residents (space permitting) will also be accommodated to avoid separating families,” the statement said.
Any Canadians choosing to not take the charter flight will have to complete the current quarantine in Japan.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu told reporters Monday that the government is still working on determining how many Canadians want evacuation from the cruise ship, with approximately 100 of the 256 onboard not yet signaling they wanted to return to Canada.
She said they expect the flight to leave later this week but was unable to provide exact details yet.
“I know there’s about 100 Canadians or so out of the 250-plus that have not responded yet in terms of what their intentions are,” she said.
“We anticipate [the flight] probably will arrive later this week but we don’t have definite arrival times yet.”
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