Above, Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis and Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement were joined by Public Health Agency of Canada Director General Rhonda Kropp and NAV Canada’s Senior Manager of Public Affairs Rebecca Hickey at a press conference following the arrival of 151 quarantined Canadians (129 Diamond Princess passengers plus 22 staff assisting on their flight home) in the Seaway city yesterday.
CORNWALL — Evacuated from the stricken Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan, the symptom-free group of 129 passengers plus 22 staff who assisted with their transport to Canada and Cornwall are settling into two weeks of isolation in the NAV Centre’s quarantine facility as a “precautionary” measure.
And this 14-day quarantine period applies individually, not as a group, confirmed Public Health Agency of Canada Director General Rhonda Kropp during an Eastern Ontario Health Unit press conference after the Centre received the group of 151 who were potentially exposed to the COVID-19 virus in the Far East.
Watch the entire news conference video, below.
If one or more of the evacuees does fall sick with the virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, the quarantine clock is not reset for the others that remain healthy inside the quarantine facility; their 14-day countdown continues toward release uninterrupted. “It’s a question we get frequently,” Kropp said, replying to a Nation Valley News query at the conference. “They are treated as individuals,” she reiterated. “The clock does not reset.”
The prospect of a case of COVID-19 popping up in quarantine is more than academic. Officials revealed that one individual had to be tested upon arrival in Cornwall because they didn’t feel well. However, the Standard-Freeholder reports today (Feb. 22) that the test has come back negative.
In Australia, two recent evacuees from the same ship tested positive this week.
The local test was taken in a clinic established within the Centre’s quarantine zone, and Kropp reported the individual was “doing fine” and in their room at the facility.
“That is medically expected … the experience was the same in Trenton,” added Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. Roumeliotis of the fact someone felt unwell and was tested as a consequence. “And across Canada, we have tested many more people than have turned out positive, just again from an abundance of caution.”
“We remain very confident that the risk of the novel coronavirus for Canadians, including the people in the Cornwall community, remains low at this time,” Kropp also assured.
The involved passengers were quarantined aboard the cruise ship for nearly two weeks in the wake of the outbreak in China, flew out of Tokyo on Thursday and arrived at CFB Trenton in the early hours of Friday morning. Officials stress that the repatriated Canadians were monitored and assessed for symptoms before leaving Japan as well as during their flight back home. They were assessed once again upon their arrival in Trenton. Any individual who developed fever, cough or difficulty breathing en route was not sent to Cornwall, and passengers were assessed again upon arrival at the NAV Centre.
The effort is being led by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), with support from
multiple agencies including the provincial Emergency Medical Assistance Team, the Canadian Red
Cross, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Canadian Armed Forces and others.
Those quarantined will be restricted to the secure area and will undergo daily health checks by medical staff onsite. They will have all their meals and supplies delivered to their rooms by the Canadian Red Cross, using disposable dishes and utensils. They will have regular opportunities to go outdoors to a secure area inaccessible to the public. When outdoors, they will be required to remain two metres from other individuals and wear a mask and gloves.
If any individual demonstrates signs of COVID-19 during the quarantine, they will be assessed and if
medically necessary, transferred to a local hospital following all necessary infection prevention protocols.
Dr. Roumeliotis also pointed out that local hospitals will treat incoming patients from the quarantine site in the event of other medical emergencies such as a heart attack. An EMS ambulance will remain at the NAV Centre during the quarantine period.
“Everyone in contact with the quarantined individuals within the secure area is following strict infection prevention and control protocols,” he said.
“These protocols will protect the safety of the community, individuals in quarantine, as well as those who are assisting them, while ensuring the care, dignity and respect of the repatriated Canadians.”
“This has not been an easy process for our community but we now need to move from a place of
frustration to a place of hard work and collaboration to make sure that all goes as well as possible,” said Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement. “The repatriated Canadians have been through an
extraordinarily difficult time and our hope is that they feel relieved and uplifted to be back home on Canadian soil. Our hearts are with them. Welcome to Cornwall.”