Japanese health authorities said Tuesday they have confirmed 88 more cases of the new virus on a quarantined cruise ship near Tokyo. The new cases bring the total on the Diamond Princess to 542.
Global Affairs Canada has said there were 256 Canadians on board the ship. In a statement Tuesday, Global Affairs said that the number of Canadians who tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, had increased to 43.
Canadians and permanent residents who are healthy will be eligible to board a charter flight, which is now expected to leave Japan on Thursday.
Update on <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/DiamondPrincess?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#DiamondPrincess</a> evacuation:<br><br>The plane is back en route to Tokyo following some unforeseen technical issues in departing from Europe. It will land in Tokyo where passengers will be screened before boarding as planned. More information to follow as it becomes available.
As with previous charter flights bringing people to Canada from the outbreak’s epicentre in Wuhan, China, the flight will arrive at CFB Trenton. From there, passengers will be taken to the NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ont., for a 14-day quarantine.
Global Affairs said it would continue to provide support for Canadians who stay in Japan after the plane leaves. That now includes Greg Yerex, who tested positive for coronavirus and has to go to a Japanese hospital.
“Our plane is, like, a day away and I’m not going to be on it, and my wife is,” Yerex told CBC’s Saša Petricic. “I’m going to be alone and I’m scared.”
Yerex’s wife, Rose, will return to Canada once the plane arrives. She faces an additional two weeks in quarantine before returning to their Port Dover, Ont., home.
On Monday, more than 300 American passengers, including 14 who tested positive for coronavirus, landed back in the U.S. after they were flown out of Japan on charter flights. They were quarantined at military bases in California and Texas.
China, meanwhile, reported 1,886 new cases and 98 more deaths on Tuesday. That raised the number of deaths in mainland China to 1,868 and the total number of confirmed cases to 72,436, according to China’s National Health Commission.
Wuhan’s health bureau announced Tuesday that Liu Zhiming, a hospital director, became infected and died despite “all-out” attempts to save him. He is at least the seventh health worker to die of the COVID-19 disease among the more than 1,700 doctors and nurses who have become sick.
Cruise ship ‘a source of infection’
The Japanese government has repeatedly defended the effectiveness of the quarantine and bristled against criticism that the ship became a virus incubator instead of a quarantine facility.
In a possible sign of lax quarantine protocols, three Japanese health officials who helped in the quarantine checks on the ship were also infected.
“I suspect people were not as isolated from other people as we would have thought,” said Dr. Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia in England.
Japan’s health minister, Katsunobu Kato, told reporters Tuesday that all passengers who remained on the cruise ship have had their samples taken and that those who tested negative would start getting off the vessel beginning Wednesday, when their required 14-day quarantine is scheduled to end.
“They all want to go home as early as possible, and we hope to assist them so that everyone can get home smoothly,” Kato said.
The process is expected to take until Friday because of the large number of people involved.
“Obviously, the quarantine hasn’t worked, and this ship has now become a source of infection,” said Dr. Nathalie MacDermott, an outbreak expert at King’s College London.
She said the exact mechanism of the virus’s spread was unknown.
“We need to understand how the quarantine measures on board were implemented, what the air filtration on board is like, how the cabins are connected and how waste products are disposed of,” MacDermott said.
“There could also be another mode of transmission we’re not familiar with,” she said, noting the possibility of environmental spread and the importance of “deep-cleaning” the entire ship to prevent people from touching contaminated surfaces.
Westerdam passengers returning home
An American woman who had been on the Westerdam cruise ship — which docked in Cambodia after being turned away at other ports — tested positive for the virus on the weekend after a special flight chartered by the cruise line reached Malaysia, prompting renewed scrutiny for the hundreds of passengers and crew still on board or ashore in Cambodia.
The ship’s operator, Holland America Line, said in a statement Monday that Cambodian health officials were on the ship testing the 255 guests and 747 crew who were awaiting clearance, and that guests currently staying at a Phnom Penh hotel had all been tested.
“At this time, no other guests or crew on board or at the hotel have reported any symptoms of the illness. Guests who have already returned home will be contacted by their local health department and provided further information,” it said.
The statement added that the virus patient had not reported any illness to the Westerdam’s medical centre during the cruise. Twenty people who reported illness while on board have tested negative for the virus, it said.
The rest of the passengers and crew had health checks that included filling out a written health questionnaire and having their temperatures checked, which has become standard procedure for air and sea passengers considered at risk.
On Sunday, two Canadians who were aboard the Westerdam returned home via Vancouver Airport. Stephen Hansen and his wife said over the weekend they were asked at the airport to wear masks, but weren’t told to isolate themselves.
“We were asked a few questions and filled out an immigration form, and they very nicely helped us bypass the usual lineups and let us out the door,” Hansen said. A spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada said over the weekend that Westerdam passengers will undergo further screening. They’ll also be asked to let public health authorities know where they will be so they can follow up.
Passenger aboard Air Canada flight to Vancouver from Montreal tests positive for COVID-19 – CBC.ca
Air Canada has confirmed that a passenger aboard one of its flights from Montreal to Vancouver on Valentine’s Day has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
The airline said health authorities confirmed the case on Feb. 22, more than a week after the flight. Air Canada says it’s working with public health authorities and has taken “all recommended measures.”
The Montreal Airport Authority told CBC News that it had not been informed about the case by either Air Canada or B.C. public health authorities, but it also wouldn’t expect to hear if they did not feel it was necessary at this stage.
The plane departed from Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport. The airport said it doesn’t know how long the passenger may have been in the airport.
Families with members stuck in China call for third Canadian rescue flight – CBC.ca
Chinese Canadians and others with family stuck in China’s Hubei province are calling for the federal government to send a third plane to repatriate Canadians, visa holders and permanent residents alike.
The city of Wuhan, China, was locked down in late January, leaving visitors with little or no opportunity to leave.
A group that uses the messaging app WeChat to organize represents at least 50 families with loved ones trapped in Hubei province.
A letter the group has sent to Global Affairs Canada, and plans to send to several Members of Parliament, states people still trapped either didn’t have enough warning to prepare for the two Canadian flights, felt misinformed about who was allowed to board or didn’t sign onto the government’s registry quickly enough.
“We strongly urge the Canadian government to repatriate these families promptly by deploying another chartered flight. The longer this ordeal carries on, and the longer the lockdown continues for these unfortunate individuals, the more danger it will impose on the Canadians stuck there,” the letter reads.
“We cannot bear the thought of losing our family members if something were to happen in the next few weeks.”
One Canadian citizen, Elaine Cheng, said she chose not to board either plane after learning her husband, who only has a Canadian visa, wouldn’t be allowed to leave the country with her. She opted to stay in Wuhan, and thinks Canada can do better.
“I think the way they treat my husband, or someone similar to my husband’s situation in China, is totally inhumane,” she said by phone Saturday. “Inhumane, uncompassionate and unfair.”
The B.C.-resident has been trapped in an apartment for the past month with her husband and limited food.
Although she has no plans to abandon her husband, she’d like to return home.
“That’s why I do not choose to live just for my own sake, for humanity and compassion purpose,” she said. “That’s what we, Canadians, advocate in this country and in this world, to other people in other countries, including China.
“We should not be abandoning anybody that has close ties to us in our life.”
Global Affairs responds
Global Affairs Canada didn’t directly respond to questions about whether the department would send a third plane.
But a spokesperson said those trapped in Hubei province can contact Canada’s embassy in Beijing, call its 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa or send a message to the federal government’s SOS email account.
“We remain in regular contact with Canadians in China and are continuing to provide assistance to those in need to the extent possible,” the spokesperson said.
Vancouver-resident Yaqi Huang says her 63-year-old father, a permanent resident of Canada, was visiting her grandfather over the Chinese New Year when the city’s roads were shut down and planes were grounded.
Not only were her father stuck inside the city, he also became separated from the 89-year-old grandfather.
“Most people feel scared. They feel nervous. They feel trapped by the government,” she said.
While Huang initially heard only permanent residents accompanying Canadian minors were allowed to leave – a decision made by Chinese officials – she was surprised to hear stories of permanent residents without young children being allowed to leave Wuhan.
After the second plane left, the 37-year-old emailed the Canadian government again.
“To say, ‘So what is the policy for letting people on the flight?'” Huang said. “I say, ‘We just need to know the truth.'”
Earlier this month, China’s deputy director of the Foreign Ministry Information Department said the country would loosen its grip and allow Chinese citizens to fly out of the city, accompanied by foreign family members.
In an emailed response to Huang, however, Global Affairs Canada said the Chinese government maintained absolute authority over who could, and who couldn’t, board the planes.
“We advocated strongly for Canadians, [permanent residents] and their families to be eligible,” the email dated Feb. 19 reads.
The emailed response says that even if the Canadian government allowed Huang’s father to travel to the airport, Chinese officials would have prevented him from boarding the flight.
“We share your frustration as well. Your parents are, without a doubt, in a difficult situation right now.”
While Huang wants her father to be repatriated and supports the efforts for a third plane to be sent, she’s not hopeful.
“I know it’s a fat chance for the Canadian government to go help, to send an airplane into Wuhan,” she said. “It’s really hard. We just want to be treated [fairly], like other families.”
Other reasons to stay
Kristina Shramko, of Richmond, B.C., said she’s been living in Wuhan for eight months.
After graduating university, the 21-year-old decided to travel.
She visited Wuhan and, after returning to Canada briefly, had been persuaded to return to China by a romantic partner she started dating.
When the novel coronavirus epicentre was placed in lockdown, Shramko contacted the Canadian government, hoping to leave the city.
When she heard about the strict no pets policy on both flights, however, she decided she couldn’t go.
She had recently adopted a cat, named Kitya.
“Even if I were to leave my cat with a friend, it’s not certain when I would come back,” Shramko said. “To me, it would be abandoning her.”
Elaine Cheng, likewise, has concerns about leaving her cat behind in Wuhan.
Shramko would like to come home until the outbreak is over, but feels she can’t as long as the pet policy is in place. She said outside of her residence “kind of feels like the zombie apocalypse.”
The Canadian citizen is currently raising money to pay for a plane ticket for her, and Kitya, when travel restrictions on the city are lifted.
“It’s really important for people to know that there are people who have decided to stay in Wuhan,” she said.
Wife is trapped
Most of Simon Zheng’s family is now stuck in Wuhan, including his wife.
The Canadian citizen’s partner, who has a work permit designed for spouses, was also visiting China over the holidays.
Zheng, a resident of Surrey, B.C., planned to come to Wuhan later in January but was held back by work. Now his wife is stranded with his in-laws and parents, Chinese citizens who live in the city.
The small business owner feels if he had been in Hubei province, his wife might have been able to board a plane, like some non-Canadian citizens who were permitted to leave.
“I was not there, so she wasn’t able to [be] included in those kinds of groups,” he said.
Zheng said he’s uncertain how long the lockdown will last and fears his family’s limited supplies could run out.
But he hasn’t given up hope.
The WeChat group he is a part of started with fewer than 10 families, Zheng said, and continues to grow.
He hopes the federal government takes the pleas of families with loved ones still trapped seriously.
“I have good faith, because we’re doing whatever we can,” he said.
Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government – CTV News
The ghosts of Indigenous protests past have hovered over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as his government struggles to bring a peaceful end to blockades that have disrupted traffic on rail lines and other major transportation routes across the country for more than two weeks.
Oka. Ipperwash. Caledonia. Gustafsen Lake. Burnt Church.
Those are just some of the names that evoke grim memories of violent confrontations that resulted from attempts to forcibly shut down Indigenous protests.
Even as he called Friday for police to enforce injunctions and bring down the barricades, Trudeau stressed the need for a peaceful resolution and worried about the potential for another Oka — the 78-day standoff in Quebec in 1990 that left one police officer dead, an Indigenous teenager badly wounded and the relationship between Mohawks and non-Indigenous locals in tatters.
“History has taught us how governments can make matters worse if they fail to exhaust all other possible avenues,” Trudeau said.
The lesson has been repeated countless times over the past 60 years and will continue to be repeated so long as federal and provincial governments fail to resolve Indigenous land claims, in the view of Hayden King, executive director of the Yellowhead Institute, a First Nations-led think tank at Ryerson University.
“We see through Canadian history that Canadians want access to the land, they want to use the land, they want to extract resources from the land and, even if that means harm, significant harm and violence to Indigenous Peoples, that overriding interest has prevailed,” says King.
“And now we’re at a point in Canadian history where all those cases (of violent confrontation) … they’ve all culminated to the point that we’re at now where there isn’t a clear avenue to address this in a climate of so-called reconciliation.”
At least initially, in resisting pressure for immediate enforcement of injunctions and calling for patience, Trudeau struck a markedly different tone than bellicose government leaders faced with similar circumstances in the past.
Michael Coyle, a Western University law professor who specializes in Indigenous rights and dispute resolution, says that was the right approach and “much more likely to lead to a mutually agreed and respectful outcome.”
But under pressure from business leaders, premiers and the public, Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down.
While the prime minister insisted he wasn’t directing the police, King says Trudeau was signalling to police that the time had come to move in. King believes, however, that police forces are “less susceptible” to that kind of pressure from political leaders than in the past.
Coyle too, believes police and some politicians have learned from past mistakes that the use of force risks lives, can inflame an already tense situation and doesn’t necessarily lead to “an enduring peaceful outcome.” Police have also learned that enforcing the rule of law includes protecting Indigenous rights, he says.
Indeed, so far, police across the country have shown considerably more restraint and sensitivity than was exhibited by the Ontario Provincial Police in 1995 when members of the Stony Creek First Nation occupied land appropriated by the federal government for a military training camp and the nearby Ipperwash Provincial Park.
Under pressure from the provincial government to quickly remove the protesters from the park and acting on unverified reports of gunfire, dozens of heavily armed OPP officers in riot gear marched towards the protesters at night. In the fear and confusion that followed, Indigenous protester Dudley George was shot and killed.
An inquiry into the Ipperwash crisis was highly critical of the OPP for failing to educate officers on Indigenous rights or to discipline some of the overtly racist officers involved. It also criticized police and the government for not trying first to communicate with protesters or negotiate an end to the park occupation.
In the current crisis, Trudeau has expressed confidence in the “professionalism” of the police to deal with blockades that sprung up across the country in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to a natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia. And he has categorically ruled out deploying the military.
Back in 1990, some 800 soldiers wound up facing off against Indigenous protesters after a botched police raid to remove a blockade — set up by Kanesatake Mohawk warriors to protest expansion of a golf course on disputed land that included a Mohawk burial ground — left one officer dead.
The raid inflamed tensions, prompting neighbouring Kahnawake and Akwesasne Mohawks to erect more barricades that shut down highways and the Mercier bridge, cutting off residents in Montreal’s southern suburbs from the island of Montreal. Some infuriated local residents retaliated by throwing stones at cars taking the elderly, women and children out of the Kanesatake reserve.
While Oka and Ipperwash were the deadliest, there have been other instances when attempts to forcibly end Indigenous protests have turned ugly. Here’s a summary of a few:
Mohawks from the Six Nations of the Grand River occupied a construction site for a new subdivision on disputed land in this community southwest of Hamilton. Local residents accused the Mohawks of harassment, intimidation and sabotage and they accused the OPP of doing nothing to protect them. The occupation lasted 52 days before the OPP launched a raid and arrested 16 people. Several police officers were injured and property destroyed. In solidarity, Mohawks of Tyendinaga blocked railroad tracks near Belleville, just as they are doing now in support of the Wet’suwet’en.
GUSTAFSON LAKE (1995)
A rancher tried to kick a small group of First Nations Sundancers off his property — which they claimed was unceded Secwepemc territory — in northern B.C. They refused to leave. Some 400 RCMP officers were deployed to the site, backed up by helicopters and armoured personnel carriers. Gunfights ensued. One Indigenous woman was injured. The standoff lasted several months, said to be one of the largest police actions in Canadian history at a cost of $5.5 million.
BURNT CHURCH (1999-2002)
This began as a long-running dispute between non-Indigenous and Mi’kmaq fishers in New Brunswick, over the Mi’kmaqs’ treaty rights to catch fish and lobster out of season. There were numerous violent confrontations between them, with shots fired. In August 2000, federal fisheries officers launched a raid on Mi’kmaq lobster traps, ramming Mi’kmaq boats and forcing their occupants overboard.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2020.
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