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Canadians on coronavirus-hit cruise ship await repatriation

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Canadian passengers of a cruise ship that has been quarantined in Japan due to a coronavirus outbreak on board are still waiting to be repatriated as their American counterparts touched down in the U.S. on Monday.

On Saturday, the Canadian government said it had chartered a plane to bring home many of the 255 Canadians aboard Diamond Princess, off Yokohama, Japan, where some 3,500 passengers have been stuck for 10 days amid an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. So far, more than 450 people have been infected, including 32 from Canada.

Late Monday, Global Affairs responded to an email from a Canadian couple on board and told them the plane is expected to arrive in Japan on Feb. 19. The aircraft will pick up Canadian passengers who are not showing symptoms.

The email reply said the departure date will be confirmed once final arrangements have been made with the Japanese government and the cruise ship company.

Those who are transported back to Canada will be placed under quarantine for 14 days. There are also 330 Hong Kong residents and 35 Italians, including crew members, on board the ship or undergoing treatment in Japanese hospitals.

Passenger Trudy Clement, of Port Dover, Ont., told CBC News Monday that she and her husband are still waiting for results from a throat swab they had taken two days ago to determine if they’ve contracted the virus.

“It’s bad enough having to be here for two weeks but not knowing anything, it’s extremely stressful,” she said.

Watch: Trudy Clement describes the wait for news aboard the Diamond Princess:

The Canadian government says it’s chartered a plane to bring home many of the 255 Canadians aboard the cruise ship that has been quarantined for 10 days amid a coronavirus outbreak. 6:16

The quarantine in Canada will be good for the peace of mind of friends, family and the community, Clement said. She said all the passengers she’s been able to talk to agree that Canadian aid did not come quickly enough.

“If this had of been started earlier, it would have ended earlier,” she said.

If she does test positive for the virus, she’ll be removed from the ship and taken to hospital in Japan.

If not, the passengers will be tested for any symptoms when they disembark, then again when they arrive in Trenton, Ont. Then they’ll face another two-week quarantine in Cornwall, Ont.

 

 

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, appeared to offer assurance on Monday that Cornwall has no worries about transmission.

Tam said Canadian health officials are “taking every precaution” to keep the city of about 46,000 “safe and healthy,” as those quarantined stay in an isolated section of the Nav Centre, a hotel and conference training facility in Cornwall.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says the government is working to bring home a number of Canadians onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in quarantine off Japan. 0:24

Americans back home

Also on Monday, more than 300 American passengers, including 14 who tested positive for coronavirus, were being quarantined at military bases in California and Texas from Japan on charter flights overnight.

One plane carrying cruise passengers touched down at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California just before midnight Sunday, while another arrived at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas early Monday. The passengers will remain at the bases for two weeks.

Japan’s Defence Minister Taro Kono tweeted earlier that Japanese troops helped transport 340 U.S. passengers on 14 buses from Yokohama port to Tokyo’s Haneda airport. About 380 Americans were on the cruise ship.

 

U.S. passengers repatriated from a cruise ship in Japan disembark from a Kalitta Air flight at Kelly Field early Monday in San Antonio, Texas. (William Luther /The San Antonio Express-News/The Associated Press)

 

The U.S. said it arranged for the evacuation because people on the Diamond Princess were at a high risk of exposure to the new virus that’s been spreading in Asia. For the departing Americans, the evacuation cuts short a 14-day quarantine that began aboard the cruise ship Feb. 5.

The State Department announced later that 14 of the evacuees received confirmation they had the virus but were allowed to board the flight because they had no symptoms. They were being kept isolated from other passengers on the flight, the U.S. State and Health and Human Services said in a joint statement.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday an infected person who shows minimal symptoms could still pass the virus to someone else.

 

Paul Molesky, right, and Cheryl Molesky, who evacuated off the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess, film a selfie video aboard a Kalitta Air plane bound for the U.S., at Haneda airport in Tokyo. (Cheryl and Paul Molesky/The Associated Press)

 

It’s unclear which base the 14 who tested positive for the virus went to.

Officials said the evacuees who arrived at Travis Air Force Base will be housed at a different location from the more than 200 other Americans who were already being quarantined on the base, in a hotel. Those people have been at the base since early February, when they arrived on flights from China.

No Travis officials will have contact with the passengers, officials said.

Now that they’re in the U.S., the cruise ship passengers must go through another 14 days of quarantine at the military facilities — meaning they will have been under quarantine for nearly four weeks.

New cases

The latest updates follow the release in China’s official media of a recent speech by President Xi Jinping in which he indicated for the first time that he had led the response to the outbreak from early in the crisis. While the reports were an apparent attempt to demonstrate the Communist Party leadership acted decisively from the start, it also opened Xi up to criticism over why the public was not alerted sooner.

In his speech, Xi said he gave instructions on fighting the virus on Jan. 7 and ordered the shutdown of the most-affected cities. The disclosure of his speech indicates top leaders knew about the outbreak’s potential severity at least two weeks before such dangers were made known to the public.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China rose to 1,868 as of the end of Monday, up by 98 from the previous day, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday. Across mainland China, there were 1,886 new confirmed infections on Monday, bringing the total so far to 72,436.

 

A medical worker in protective suit takes a break at an isolated ward of Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, in Hubei province, China, on Sunday. (China Daily via Reuters)

 

With fears of the virus spreading further, Chinese and residents of nearby countries and territories have begun hoarding supplies of everything from masks and other personal protective gear to instant noodles, cooking oil and toilet paper.

In Hong Kong, local media reported that police had arrested two men and were seeking three others who allegedly stole a load of 60 packs of toilet paper at knifepoint early Monday morning. Supplies of the commodity have become extremely scarce, with often only low-quality imports still available. Police were expected to discuss the matter later.

Another 1,200 doctors and nurses from China’s military began arriving in Wuhan on Monday morning, the latest contingent sent to help shore up the city’s overwhelmed health-care system.

The city has rapidly built two prefabricated hospitals and converted gymnasiums and other spaces into wards for those showing milder symptoms, but residents still say they are being wait-listed for beds and even ambulance rides.

Wuhan has accounted for the vast majority of mainland China’s 70,548 cases. Some 60 million people in that area and other parts of China are under lockdown in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading further.

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Coronavirus cases in Canada up by over 450, total nears 12,000 – Global News

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The number of novel coronavirus patients in Canada continues to grow, as the country hit more than 11,000 total cases on Friday.

According to data from Public Health Canada, cases reached 11,747 as of 11 a.m. EST on April 3, up by more than 450 from the day before.

The total deaths in Canada is at 152, which is an increase of more than a dozen people.


READ MORE:
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1 million people worldwide

Quebec still holds the highest total cases, with 5,518. However, the most number of deaths have been reported in Ontario, at 67 of 3,255 cases, according to the data.

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Quebec’s death toll was at 36 as of April 3.

One day earlier, Canada’s total cases broke the 10,000 mark.

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PHAC reports that community transmission makes up 64 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 cases, meaning people who caught the infection without travelling or being in close contact with a traveller.






0:49
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

However, the extent of community transmission is difficult to track through these numbers, as experts believe many people are asymptomatic.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, cautioned that the numbers won’t reflect what’s happening “right now,” because it doesn’t show the point in time when people became sick.

“What you’re seeing is what happened to someone when they were symptomatic at least two weeks ago,” she said at a recent press conference.


READ MORE:
Phone data shows Canadians avoiding restaurants, transit, stores, offices during COVID-19

“So even if you’re not hearing of cases in your community, it doesn’t mean there is no risk of exposure. We must all consider that anyone could be infected and keeping our two-metre distance is the safest bet.”

Tam said this week is “crucial” to see if physical distancing measures and closures have made an impact on the outbreak.

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

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COVID-19 researcher gains Canadian citizenship through historic virtual ceremony – Global News

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A University of Manitoba professor who has gained government funding to research solutions to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic was granted Canadian citizenship — without having to leave his home.

Dr. Adolf Ng took part in the first-ever virtual citizenship ceremony Thursday, according to a social media post from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, in order to meet what they called an “urgent need to facilitate COVID-19 research.”

“His new Canadian citizenship and passport allows him to perform essential work related to combatting COVID-19 and saving Canadian lives,” the ministry said in a follow-up Tweet.

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Citizenship ceremonies and tests have been otherwise cancelled due to the pandemic and resulting public health orders prohibiting large public gatherings.

Ng, who teaches supply chain management at U of M’s Asper School of Business, received $258,900 from Research Manitoba last month for research projects in both Canada and Wuhan, China, to find solutions to supply chain issues in Canada.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau closes Canadian borders to foreign travellers


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau closes Canadian borders to foreign travellers

The research project is one of dozens that have been partially funded by the federal government in order to ramp up Canada’s research and development into solutions to battle the pandemic, including searches for possible vaccines.

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Ng told the University of Manitoba Today news magazine that he was honoured to be granted his citizenship through the unusual ceremony, which has never been performed in Canada before.


READ MORE:
How long will coronavirus measures last in Canada? Experts say June or July

“What an extraordinary way to complete my citizenship journey!” he said.

“The officers in IRCC were really, really accommodating, and I greatly appreciate their efforts. I really want to attend a physical ceremony someday.”

The university says Ng’s research project is expected to begin later this month.

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

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Coronavirus: After shipment seized from Canada, FBI redistributing nearly 1M masks and gloves – Global News

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Medical supplies shipped from Canada to a New York man accused of price-gouging are now being redistributed to doctors and nurses amid the new coronavirus pandemic, according to U.S. authorities.

Baruch Feldheim, 43, was arrested on Monday in Brooklyn and charged with lying to federal agents after he allegedly sold a doctor approximately 1,000 N95 masks and other medical materials for $12,000, a roughly 700 per cent markup, according to the FBI.

READ MORE: Trudeau sidesteps questions on whether China’s coronavirus data is trustworthy

Feldheim was also charged with assaulting FBI detectives after allegedly coughing on them during his arrest, claiming to have COVID-19, the agency said in a statement.

U.S. court documents allege that Feldheim acquired and resold the personal protective equipment out of an auto repair shop in New Jersey and his residence in Brooklyn.

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The FBI allege about “eight skids of surgical masks” arrived from Canada. The agency did not respond to questions about who in Canada shipped the supplies.

“According to records from Customs and Border Protection, on or about March 25, 2020, [Feldheim’s company] received a shipment by truck from Canada of approximately eight skids of surgical face masks,” an FBI affidavit says.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections


Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections

The stockpile of supplies included 192,000 N95 respirators, 130,000 surgical masks and nearly 600,000 medical-grade gloves, the FBI said. Agents also recovered surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant.

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According to the FBI, a doctor told agents he went to pick up his order at an auto repair shop in New Jersey, which was being used as a warehouse, he saw enough materials, including hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, cleaning agents, and surgical supplies “to outfit an entire hospital.”

READ MORE: Counterfeit Chinese-made face masks pulled offline after Global News probe

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said Thursday those supplies are now being distributed to health care workers in New York and New Jersey. The HHS said it used the Defense Production Act to take possession of the items and will pay Feldheim “fair market value.”

James Moriarty, Feldheim’s defense lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Global News, but Reuters reported that Moriarty had denied the charges. Feldheim has been released on a US$50,000 bond and a promise not to deal in medical equipment before his trial.

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Some provinces, including Ontario, have passed emergency legislation that could see price gougers of essential items face jail time amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE: Scammers have never had a more target-rich environment amid coronavirus pandemic — experts

New York has been one of the states hardest hit by the deadly virus, where hospitals have been overwhelmed by patients and there is an urgent need for personal protective gear.

As of Friday morning, there have been more than 92,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, including 51,800 in New York City. More than 2,400 people with COVID-19 have died in the state, which has the largest number — around 38 per cent — of confirmed cases in the U.S.






0:49
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

Across the U.S. there are more than 245,000 cases of the deadly virus that have been confirmed and more than 6,000 deaths.

U.S. officials called the case a blatant example of hoarding of medical supplies and that it was the first of many price-gouging investigations related to COVID-19 equipment currently underway.

“If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door,” Attorney General William Barr said in the announcement.

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“The Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working tirelessly around the clock with all our law enforcement partners to ensure that bad actors cannot illicitly profit from the COVID-19 pandemic facing our nation.”

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

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