Canadian cruise ship passengers whose charter plane first landed in Trenton early Friday morning have arrived in Cornwall to begin a 14-day quarantine.
The plane, which landed just after 2 a.m. ET, was carrying passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise liner that was quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, since early February due to an outbreak of COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus.
All repatriated passengers on the chartered flight had tested negative for the virus, but were screened again in Trenton before boarding five buses destined for the NAV Centre in Cornwall to be quarantined, according to Health Canada officials.
According to a Facebook post by Bernadette Clement, the mayor of Cornwall, Ont., 131 passengers and seven crew members were on board the charter flight.
However, the office of Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne later confirmed that only 129 passengers were on board.
The majority of those passengers are over the age of 60, Clement said, but range in age from 20 to 80.
Including flight crew and medical personnel, there were 151 people on board, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The flight crew will also be quarantined, federal public health officials said, but the length of quarantine could be shortened depending on the level of risk.
WATCH: Here’s what the rooms at the NAV Centre look like
Clement welcomed passengers in a statement shortly after buses began arriving in Cornwall, saying “our hearts are with you and we hope the quarantine period passes quickly and as comfortably as possible.”
“We know that you find yourselves in extraordinarily difficult circumstances and that it is impossible for us to imagine how we might feel if we were in your shoes,” she wrote. “But our hope is that you are relieved and uplifted to be on Canadian soil.”
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, said passengers in quarantine will undergo twice-daily medical checkups and will also have access to mental health support.
“These individuals have been cooped up in a cruise, many of them without windows,” he said. “So we are offering on-site mental health services.”
WATCH: Buses carrying cruise ship passengers arrive in Cornwall
All passengers arriving in Canada tested negative for virus
Lolita Wiesner, who was on the Diamond Princess cruise ship to celebrate her anniversary, said medics boarded the plane shortly after landing at CFB Trenton to take passengers’ temperatures and deliver meals.
Forty-seven Canadians who were on board the ship tested positive for COVID-19. Those passengers were not allowed to board the charter flight, and are in isolation at Japanese health facilities.
Healthy Canadian passengers who choose to leave Japan by their own means will also face a mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival in Canada, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Thursday.
On Friday, the Canadian Red Cross announced it was sending a team to Japan to offer support to the Canadians who are being treated there.
WATCH: Flight carrying cruise ship passengers arrives in Trenton
As the quarantine in Cornwall gets underway, another group of people are due to be released Friday from separate quarantine in Trenton. Canadians evacuated from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak, were quarantined at Yukon Lodge after returning to Canada on Feb. 7.
Risk to general public is low, officials say
The NAV Centre is a hotel, conference and community centre. It has previously been used by the federal government as an emergency shelter.
Some Cornwall residents, including the mayor, were surprised and expressed concern about hosting the cruise ship passengers at a facility that’s open to the public and not typically used for medical purposes.
Representatives from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which is handling the operation, said no one under quarantine will be in contact with the general public.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) said the section of the NAV Centre that will be used is isolated and has its own ventilation system separate from the rest of the complex.
The risk to the general public is extremely low, Roumeliotis said.
“The fact that these individuals are here does not increase that risk,” he said. “There are precautions in place to be able to confine these individuals and make sure they’re quarantined in a safe way.”
Wolf found dead by roadside, another still missing after ‘suspicious’ B.C. zoo escape
ALDERGROVE — One of the wolves that escaped its enclosure at the Greater Vancouver Zoo this week has been found dead on a roadside, and a second wolf is still missing, the zoo’s deputy general manager said Thursday.
Menita Prasad said both the zoo’s perimeter fence and the grey wolf enclosure were deliberately “compromised” early Tuesday, allowing the zoo’s nine adult wolves to escape while five cubs stayed inside the enclosure.
All but two of the adults were contained within the zoo’s property, she said.
The zoo in Aldergrove, B.C., has been shut for three days as workers and conservation officers searched for the wolves, while Langley RCMP investigate the incident as a suspected case of unlawful entry and vandalism.
The fences had been cut, Prasad said. An earlier statement from the zoo said the escape was “suspicious, and believed to be due to malicious intent.”
Searchers were “heartbroken” to find a three-year-old female wolf, Chia, dead by the side of 264 Street in Aldergrove on Thursday morning, Prasad told a press conference through tears.
It’s presumed Chia was hit by a car, she said.
A one-year-old female wolf named Tempest is still missing and believed to be in the vicinity of the zoo, Prasad said, adding that the animal, which was born at the facility, has a slim chance of surviving in the wild.
Prasad described Tempest as a “shy wolf” who poses no threat to public safety, though she said she could not say what the wolf might do if a person approached her. She urged anyone who sees the animal not to approach her and instead call authorities to report the location.
The wolf’s prime motivation would be to get back to her family, she said.
“As a result of this senseless act, our wolf pack has lost two family members,” Prasad said. “We watched these wolves grow up. We consider the animals at the zoo a part of our family.”
She said the “search and rescue operation” would continue and is asking for the public’s help “to reunite Tempest with her family.”
“She is a small wolf with grey brown puppy fur and white markings on her muzzle and her brow,” Prasad said.
Anyone who spots Tempest is asked contact the Greater Vancouver Zoo, Langley RCMP or the BC Conservation Officer Service by calling 1-877-952-7277.
The zoo, which is about 55 kilometres outside Vancouver, is set to reopen on Saturday, Prasad said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2022.
The Canadian Press
COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Canada stable, but higher than past summers – Global News
COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths and confirmed case counts across Canada are relatively stable after an early summer wave, but they remain far higher than past years, data shows.
As of Wednesday, Canada is seeing an average of 3,475 lab-confirmed cases and 44 deaths per day, according to provincial and territorial data compiled by Global News. Currently, 5,158 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 305 patients who are in intensive care.
While those numbers are down slightly from the brief wave of infections in June and July, they remain far higher than the rates seen during the summers of 2020 and 2021.
In past years, there was an average of roughly 350 patients in hospital per day during the summer months. Even as hospitalizations climbed in August 2021 and into September of that year, they peaked at half the current rate.
The current death rate has also vastly eclipsed past summers, when the average number of deaths per day was in the single digits.
Previous evidence pointed to the summer months as predictable lulls in the pandemic, as people spend more time in outdoor spaces where there is less transmission of the virus.
But the more infectious Omicron variant upended that thinking, and further mutations — including the current BA.5 subvariant and its predecessor, BA.2 — have led to more waves of infections this year than in the past.
The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that BA.5’s dominance has led to a 35 per cent increase in reported COVID-10-related deaths globally over the past four weeks.
In the last week alone, 15,000 people died from COVID-19 worldwide, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“There is a lot of talk about learning to live with this virus, but we cannot live with 15,000 deaths a week. We cannot live with mounting hospitalizations and deaths,” he said at a press conference.
“We cannot live with inequitable access to vaccines and other tools. Learning to live with COVID-19 does not mean we pretend it’s not there. It means we use the tools we have to protect ourselves and protect others.”
COVID guidelines for fall: Expert urges Canadians to look out for flu as well
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has said the country is in a period of pandemic transition that will likely lead to further waves this year, warning back in June that COVID-19 “has not left the stage.”
Public health officials have shifted their focus toward a potential serious wave in the fall and winter. Planning is underway to provide vaccine booster doses to all adults that request one, while ensuring vulnerable populations receive an extra dose.
Experts say the boosters are important, as current vaccines do not sufficiently protect against Omicron and its subvariants, allowing for “breakthrough cases” and even reinfections among vaccinated people.
“However, there is evidence that if you have the vaccine, more than likely you don’t end up in the hospital,” said Dr. Horacio Bach, an infectious disease researcher and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia.
“People (infected with COVID-19) will say, ‘It’s just kind of a flu, that’s okay, I’ll stay home.’ That is the result of the vaccines.”
Expert says Canada can expect a spike in COVID-19 variants cases during fall and winter
The Public Health Agency of Canada notes that between June 6 and July 3 of this year, unvaccinated cases were three times more likely to be hospitalized and four times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to vaccinated cases.
Tedros urged everyone who has access to a booster dose to get one, and to continue to wear masks when it is impossible to keep distance from others.
As of Monday, 86.1 per cent of the Canadian population has received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, while 82.4 per cent have received at least two doses. Yet just under half — 49.7 per cent — have gotten at least one more booster dose.
Despite hospitalizations nationally remaining relatively stable, signs are emerging that more patients are being admitted with symptoms.
Hospitalizations are on the rise in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, according to the most recent updates. Most provinces besides Quebec have shifted to reporting data weekly, while Saskatchewan is due to release its first monthly report on Thursday.
To date, provinces and territories have confirmed more than 4,125,000 cases of COVID-19 including 43,471 deaths.
— With files from Rachel Gilmore
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Commercial bankruptcies rising in Canada, says business lobby group – CBC News
A small business lobby group says commercial bankruptcies are rising in Canada and even more small businesses are at risk of closure.
Statistics Canada data shows small business insolvencies have been on an upward trend since May 2021.
But the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says its own survey data indicates only 10 per cent of Canada’s small business owners would file for bankruptcy if their business was no longer solvent.
It says 46 per cent of business owners say they would simply stop operating rather than go through the bankruptcy process.
The CFIB also says more than one in six Canadian small business owners say they are currently considering going out of business.
The lobby group wants government support to help Canada’s small business sector get through the next few months and deal with challenges like pandemic-related debt and supply chain issues.
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