On February 15, the federal government announced that Global Affairs Canada has chartered a plane to repatriate Canadians on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan. Before leaving Japan, passengers will be assessed to confirm they have not contracted the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Those who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 will not be permitted to board. The aircraft will bring passengers from Japan to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, where they will be assessed again. Passengers without coronavirus symptoms will be transported to the NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ontario to undergo a further 14-day period of quarantine.
On February 16, Mayor Bernadette Clement met with officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Safety Canada, the Red Cross, and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit to understand the specifics around the evacuation.
“In my discussions with Peter Tanguy, Assistant Deputy Minister, Emergency Management and Programs for Public Safety Canada, and other federal representatives, I reiterated the concern and apprehension our residents have towards hosting Diamond Princess travellers at the NAV Centre,” said Mayor Clement. “We have been working hard at improving communications between City officials and the federal government. We are now connected with federal agencies that are planning direct communications with residents.”
Following these meetings and because of growing concerns from residents, the Mayor requested that CAO Maureen Adams activate the Emergency Operations Center to establish an emergency meeting of the Community Control Group (CCG) to receive a briefing on the details of the situation. The CCG as well as representatives from federal departments and Mohawk Council of Akwesasne met Sunday evening to receive a briefing of the details surrounding the evacuation.
Global Affairs Canada, Public Safety Canada, and Public Health Canada have shared the following information to date:
- 228 travellers will be pre-screened in Japan. Passengers without COVID-19 symptoms will be flown to Trenton, registered, and screened, and transported to the NAV Centre this week.
- Passengers who are not demonstrating any of the symptoms will be quarantined at the NAV Centre for 14 days as a precaution.
- The quarantined passengers will be cared for by the Provincial Emergency Medical Assistance Team (EMAT), while the Red Cross will provide support services.
- Passengers will be quarantined in a section of the NAV Centre segregated from the rest of the building.
- The risk of Canadians, including City of Cornwall residents, contracting COVID-19 remains low.
“Cornwall and area residents do not need to be concerned. There is no risk to the public. We are well-prepared to handle any medical needs in a safe manner,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. ““While coronaviruses are a respiratory illness, these infections are not the same as those that cause the flu. If you have received a flu vaccine, it will not protect against coronaviruses. The coronavirus cannot be transmitted through the air.”
Dr. Paul also reminded residents that they can stay healthy and prevent the spread of infections by washing their hands, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and staying home if they are sick.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has noted that the NAV Centre quarantine site is an isolated facility with a self-contained ventilation system. The facility is separated from the rest of the public NAV Centre and is accessible only by an indoor bridge and underground tunnel that are closed to the public. A medical clinic will be installed on the site to provide health and social services. Guests or visitors to the main NAV Centre campus will not be affected by the quarantine, and they are not at risk as there will be no access to the quarantine site or quarantined individuals.
The CCG has made a formal request to the Federal agencies involved in this event to communicate up to date information on the activities related to this evacuation. The CCG will continue to monitor the evacuation, as information becomes available, the City will continue to communicate with residents.
To learn more about the coronavirus/COVID-19, please click here. To learn more about the repatriation of Diamond Princess passengers, please click here. To contact Public Health Canada’s media line, please call 613-957-2983. For public inquiries, please call 1-833-784-4397.