‘Frustration’ for MP and Cornwall mayor as city to host COVID-19 quarantine at NAV Centre

CORNWALL — The Canadians quarantined aboard that cruise ship in Japan are coming to Cornwall’s NAV Centre for a further two-week stay — a federal decision that has the local MP and local mayor both admitting to “frustration” over a lack of information from the Trudeau government.

Global Affairs Canada announced yesterday that a plane has been chartered to repatriate the Canadians who have been stuck aboard the Diamond Princess, docked in Yokohama, Japan. An on-board outbreak of the novel coronavirus — now described as COVID-19 — prompted Japanese authorities to quarantine the vessel and its 1,219 passengers and crew more than a week ago.

The Canadian plan will bring passengers from Japan to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, “after which they will be assessed and transported to the NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ontario, to undergo a further 14-day period of quarantine,” the federal department says in a press release. As many as 255 Canadians are on the ship, according to media accounts.

Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement expressed frustration with the lack of information forthcoming from Ottawa.

“I have taken note of your questions and concerns, and quite frankly, I share those concerns,” said Clement in a Facebook video directed at city residents this morning. “The are questions about the suitability of the NAV Centre, and of Cornwall, to be receiving people who will spending a quarantine period. We need answers to those questions, and it is frustrating that I don’t have more information from the federal government that I can provide to residents. We really don’t have as much detail as I would like to have at this time, not at all.”

See Clement’s video statement, below.

Only those showing no symptoms will be allowed onto the plane that will take them back to Canada, according to Global Affairs Canada. The decision “was not taken lightly,” the department says, but was made because of the “extraordinary circumstances” faced by the Canadian passengers. Three hundred and fifty-five people on the cruise liner have so far come down with the flu-like illness.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Eric Duncan said he shares the “concern and frustration of local residents,” adding in a Facebook post that he was “not aware of this decision or received any briefing at all.”

The MP said the government “did not bother to reach out to local elected officials and the community to answer key questions before making this decision,” a move Duncan described as “unacceptable.”

In CBC footage below, a Canadian passenger describes the prospect of an additional 14 days of quarantine, in Cornwall, as “very irksome.”

Canada already has a number of Canadians under quarantine for the virus at Canadian Forces Base Trenton.

Canadians left behind in Japan because they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 will be transferred into that country’s  health system to receive appropriate care, the government says.

It’s not immediately clear when the involved Canadians will actually fly back to Canada. The Canadian government says it will release those travel plans as soon as the information is available, and in the meantime, it advises those Canadians aboard the Diamond Princess to continue following the recommendations of the Japanese quarantine.

Cornwall’s NAV Centre has a recent history of hosting individuals in government-imposed limbo. The federal facility housed hundreds of asylum seekers who walked across the Canada-U.S. border a couple of years ago.

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