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Canadian traveller detained in Thailand amid COVID-19 confusion coming home – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
A Canadian who was detained in Thailand for five days amid the COVID-19 outbreak is finally coming home.

Campbell Chamberlin, 26, had been travelling throughout Asia for more than a year when the pandemic began. On Tuesday, while Chamberlin was on a flight from Thailand to Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka shut its borders to some foreign visitors — meaning the Canadian could not enter.

“They asked me why I was there in Sri Lanka, and when I answered tourism, the man just shook his head disappointingly at me and took my passport and left,” said Chamberlin.

With that, after immigration authorities confiscated all their passports, he and three other tourists — two from France and one from Germany — were placed back on the plane they had flown in on. But when they arrived in Thailand, they learned that they were barred from entering that country as well.

The Thai Lion Air staff corralled the travellers, who they were now responsible for. According to Chamberlin, the Thai Lion Air staff was never supposed have allowed them to get on the original flight to Sri Lanka.

“From what I understand, Thai Lion Air should have known [about the travel restrictions] and not allowed us to board, which is why they were then responsible for us afterward,” Chamberlin said.

“We were brought to this room. I don’t think any of us realized at that point that it was going to be five days, because no one really explained anything to us.”

The room where the airline officials held the travellers had little light pouring through the small windows, with cameras on the walls and a series of mats laid out for Chamberlin and his fellow detainees to sleep on. 

While Chamberlin expected to wait for a few hours, maybe the night, before being placed on a flight, as the hours went by it became apparent they could be stuck for some time.

When Chamberlin asked to access his luggage, he said he was told he could not — forcing him to go days without brushing his teeth. The airline was charging him $40 per day for his stay in the room that he wasn’t allowed to leave. Chamberlin was also forced to skip some meals, as he has a fish allergy and continued to be served fish due to a language barrier.

Luckily, Chamberlin still had his cellphone. He enlisted the help of his mother, Judy Erskine, who lives in Ottawa, and his sister, Kelly Chamberlin, who both sprang into action.

Kelly shared Chamberlin’s story all over social media, where many friends also shared it, asking for help. Erskine attempted to contact the federal government’s help lines and Chamberlin also sent an email to the government requesting emergency assistance. 

However, with thousands of Canadian travellers calling the government’s help lines in a bid to find a way home in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, Erskine found it took hours on hold and multiple conversations to reach someone who could help.

At one point, when Erskine attempted to speak to someone with the Canadian government’s emergency assistance line – who she had been told might be able to help — she said she was informed that it might be difficult because it was just after 4 p.m., and the staff would have already gone home.

“I’m disappointed with the Canadian government. I know they’re swamped and I’d love to give them the benefit of the doubt…but Campbell’s sitting in an airport, with flights,” said Erskine. 

“I understand that they have 8,000 emails. I get it. But this is my kid, I want him home.”

Chamberlin said he called the Canadian embassy in Thailand four or five times before he “wasn’t just hung up on.”

Once Chamberlin described his problem to the embassy staff, he said an individual from the embassy was “incredible helpful” and the official even went so far as to pass along his personal number. But shortly afterwards, Chamberlin’s SIM card ran out and he wasn’t allowed to purchase another.

“I do believe he did do what he could,” said Chamberlin, adding that the other foreigners detained alongside him had no contact with their own embassies.

In an email to CTVNews.ca, a government spokesperson confirmed that they were aware of the case and were working to assist Chamberlin.

In between her own bids to get a hold of the government, Erskine eventually managed to get in contact with a private investigator on the ground in Sri Lanka, who eventually informed her that Chamberlin had been flagged as an at-risk passenger because he had been turned away from two countries — and now a letter from an airline was required to confirm that they’d be willing to accept him as a passenger.

Meanwhile, Chamberlin and his companions grew increasingly frustrated in the small room where they were held, as travellers in similar situations whose fates were in the hands of other airlines would come and go within hours, having flights to take them out of the country. 

Despite regularly questioning airline employees who would visit the room where they had him detained, Chamberlin was repeatedly told that Thai Lion Air had no timeline for when they would release him and his companions. With no passport and no idea when they would be released, Kelly said her “positive, happy” brother became “depressed.”

“That’s my big brother, and he’s hurting, and I can’t do anything,” said Kelly.

However, good news came on Saturday when Campbell was suddenly informed he was booked on a flight to Tokyo, with the ultimate plan to travel back to Canada. While his German companion also had a flight out, he told CTVNews.ca that the fate of the two French travellers remained uncertain.

He also said he’s “amazed” by his mother and sister, who worked “non-stop, 24/7” to get him home.

“I’ve very thankful for everyone that I had helping me.”

At the end of the day, Campbell said he learned from the experience.

“There’s certainly a lesson about booking with discount airlines,” he joked.

However, the real lesson he learned is a cautionary tale for other travellers like him as this pandemic progresses.

“I’m a traveller, I always tell people, keep going as long as you can, no matter what. But I really think right now, if you’re planning on travelling from whatever country you’re in, it should really only be back to your home country,” Campbell said.

CTVNews.ca has reached out to Thai Lion Air for comment.

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B.C. to require people returning to Canada to have self-isolation plan – Global News

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The B.C. government now legally requires all travellers entering B.C. from outside Canada to submit a 14-day self-isolation plan, as part of federal laws to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“As we welcome British Columbians back home, we must stay vigilant and do everything we can,” Premier John Horgan told a news conference on Wednesday.

“As we follow the advice and guidance of our provincial health officer, it’s also important to take care of one another. By supporting people through a self-isolation plan after international travel, we will keep people safe and help flatten the curve.”






6:22
B.C. Premier John Horgan addresses province in televised speech


B.C. Premier John Horgan addresses province in televised speech

The measure is in place effective immediately. You can view the form to submit your plan here.

The plan, which can be submitted online or completed in person on arrival to B.C., must show that returning travellers have supports in place to safely self-isolate for two weeks, such as ordering groceries to be delivered instead of going to buy them at a store.

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Starting Friday, provincial officials will be on hand at Vancouver International Airport and major land border crossings to make sure the plans are complete and assist anyone who needs it.

If an airline traveller arrives at YVR and an adequate self-isolation plan is proposed but needs additional support, the person may be taken or directed to an accommodation site to begin quarantine until any outstanding details of their plan are included.

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Horgan did not have any details on the location of the quarantine areas, and said he’s working with the federal government to coordinate.

If a traveller arrives at a major land border crossing and needs help to create a plan, they will be sent directly home to start self-isolating, with a check-in from officials to follow.


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The province has repeatedly raised concerns about having enough resources to communicate and enforce public-health orders to those arriving in B.C.

A couple in B.C.’s Cowichan Valley refused to self-isolate since recently returning from international travel. The mayor of District of North Cowichan said the municipality does not have the power to enforce the federal Quarantine Act — that’s up to the RCMP.






2:04
Federal government imposes mandatory quarantine for returning travelers


Federal government imposes mandatory quarantine for returning travelers

The act, which went into effect March 25, states that anyone returning to Canada from another country must immediately self-isolate for 14 days, with penalties of fines or jail time.

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Staff with the Canada Border Services Agency were to inform all returning Canadians and permanent residents of the new orders and forbid them from making any stops on their way home.

On Wednesday, Global News has learned there are currently no public health officials stationed at Canada-U.S. land border crossings to assist in screening for COVID-19.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus: Canadian-born Second World War Dam Buster dies from COVID-19 – Global News

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Ken Sumner, Canadian-born veteran of the legendary Dam Busters squadron, who spent almost 200 hours in aircraft fighting Nazi Germany and who was decorated for his devotion to duty, died from the novel coronavirus on April 2.

He was 96 years old.

“He never said much. He was a quiet guy, but when he spoke every single person listened,” said Warwick Shepherd, Sumner’s grandson.

“He was immensely proud and a dogged fighter.”


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Sumner died in hospital in the U.K. last week, shortly after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Shepherd remembers his granddad’s love for his kids or grandkids and his fierce determination.

Shepherd, speaking via Skype from Chester, U.K., told Global News Sumner ran five marathons when he was in his 70s and toured the Great Wall of China in his 80s.

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“He didn’t realize it wasn’t a race every day, so he would set off and run ahead of everyone, not thinking it was actually a sightseeing tour.”

Shepherd said Sumner rarely spoke about his war service.

“Like most veterans, he was very humble and very quiet about it.”

Shepherd does know that his granddad was once part of the most celebrated bombing squadron in the Second World War.


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Ken Sumner was born in Prairie River, Saskatchewan on May 5, 1923. His own father emigrated to Canada to start a farm after fighting in the first World War, but had to return to England during the Great Depression.

Sumner had originally planned to be a doctor, but he left school when the war began. He enlisted, age 18, in the RAF.

He became a bomb aimer on the famed Avro Lancaster aircraft. It was the aimer’s role to tell the pilot the heading when on a bombing run and when to release the payload.

The aimer also took the ‘bomb photograph,’ which served as proof of the plane’s success.

He joined the No. 44 Rhodesia Squadron, which was named in honour of that British colony’s contribution to the Allied war effort.

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An Avro Lancaster bomber practicing for the Dam Buster raid.

An Avro Lancaster bomber practicing for the Dam Buster raid.


Supplied / Ted Barris

The determination, which is grandson recognized even late into Sumner’s life, was on full display during his time in a Lancaster.

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According to a copy of the London Gazette from 1944, Sumner was hit by shrapnel in the hand and arm while en route to a target. He hid the extent of the injury from the pilot because he was afraid the pilot would return to the U.K.

Sumner completed the mission and only told the crew how badly he was hurt when they were once again over British soil.

For his devotion to duty he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.

“The distinguished flying medal, or DFM, was very significant,” Ted Barris, author of ‘Dam Busters: Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid against Nazi Germany, said.

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“If you were a sergeant pilot or a gunner and not as involved in the strategic and tactical aspects of the attack, you might be overlooked,” he explained.

“But to be noticed, to be recognized and to receive the DFM is very important.”

Shortly after the mission on which he was injured, he joined the legendary 617 Squadron, better known as the ‘Dam Busters.’


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The Dam Buster raid was a daring attack on the heart of Nazi Germany’s industrial heartland — a series of dams along the Ruhr River.

The plan, officially known as ‘Operation: Chastise,’ sent a squadron of Lancaster bombers — crewed by pilots from all over the Commonwealth — zooming at treetop level through a river valley at full speed so they could literally bounce a specially-designed bomb on the water over torpedo nets and into the dams.

Barris said there wasn’t another raid like it.

“For these crews to come down at 30 metres above the reservoir, and drop this bomb at 375 kilometres an hour, spinning 500 revolutions per minute backwards, with absolutely precise navigational piloting, wireless radio operating, was a miracle,” he said.

Barris noted that Lancasters were designed to bomb from 25- or 30,000 feet (about 7,600 to 9,100m).

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“For them to fly 100 feet off the deck where the radar couldn’t see them, essentially — we talk about flying under the radar, this is where the term initiated.”

Two of the dams were destroyed and more were damaged. The loss of hydroelectric power and flooding of military facilities hindered the Nazi war machine.


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Barris, speaking over Skype from Uxbridge, Ont., said the success of the raid came at a crucial time for the Allies.

“At that point in the war, at the end of 1942 and early ‘43, morale was at a very low ebb on the Commonwealth side,” he explained.

He pointed to the evacuation at Dunkirk, when the Nazis beat the Allied forces back to the North Channel and off of mainland Europe; the disastrous Dieppe raid, in which more than 900 Allied soldiers perished; and the Pearl Harbour attack as reasons why the prospects of defeating Adolf Hitler seemed so dim.

The Dam Buster raid, says Barris, was a needed victory, but while the attack was a success, he stressed, it wasn’t strategically or tactically critical.

“The dams raid was not a knockout punch —  it didn’t deliver the coup de grace to industry in Nazi production of war weaponry,” he said.

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“But at a crucial time in the war when there was nothing really to crow about in terms of Allied victories, it was an Allied victory.”


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Sumner joined 617 Squadron after the legendary raid and after the Dam Busters nom du guerre was officially bestowed. That meant that any member of the squadron was a Dam Buster.

The 617 continued as a specialist precision bombing unit for the rest of the war and was sent on many more raids with unique bombs.

According to Sumner’s daughter, Lorelle Shepherd, he took part in many high-profile attacks with the Dam Busters, bombing Hamburg and Dresden and using other famous munitions like the ‘Tall Boy’ and ‘Grand Slam’ bombs.

“The Dam Busters, to their credit, not only took out the dams in ’43, but were involved in all the major operations in Bomber Command following that, right to the end of the war,” Barris said.

It was as a Dam Buster in 1944 when Sumner met Phyllis “Rennie” Reynolds, of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). They married less than two years later and later had three children.

Rennie passed away in 2015.

Ken Sumner and his wife Phyllis “Rennie” Reynolds in an undated photo.

Ken Sumner and his wife Phyllis “Rennie” Reynolds in an undated photo.


Supplied / Warwick Shepherd

Shepherd said his granddad was always very proud of his Canadian roots and told Global News that he wanted his connected to the country to be highlighted at his funeral.

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“What we’re hoping to do at his funeral next week is drape not only the Union Jack flag over the coffin, which is afforded to veterans,” Shepherd said, “but also the Canadian flag as well, because that’s what he wanted.”

Sumner had wanted half of his ashes spread near Prairie River.

Shepherd said he looked up to his granddad and that his dedication to public service is needed now during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think we can look to that generation,” he said, [showing us] a way that we can really work together and get through this.”

Shepherd said a small service will take place next week in order to and a larger one, with all of the military honours due his father, will happen next year after the pandemic ends.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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B.C. federal prison has highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada – Global News

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A federal prison in the Fraser Valley has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, according to government statistics.

Correctional Service of Canada numbers show the Mission Institution, a medium-security prison, has 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19. One test came back negative and results from 17 tests are pending.


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There are no other positive cases in federal institutions in B.C.

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The Joliette Institution in Quebec has 10 cases and Ontario’s Grand Valley Institution has seven.

In all, 35 inmates at facilities across Canada have tested positive for the respiratory virus.

What has caused 11 cases at Mission Institution? It’s unclear because prison visits have been suspended along with work releases and group education programs.

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The union representing prison staff says 49 correctional officers across Canada have tested positive for COVID-19. All but one of the cases are in Quebec.

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers has been asking for a different set of criteria for the testing of correctional officers, saying there may be a requirement to test employees who do not have symptoms but may have had contact with someone with COVID-19.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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