Flight carrying Canadian cruise passengers who tested negative for coronavirus on way home

The latest:

  • Canadians who cleared medical screening disembark after 2-week quarantine on Diamond Princess.
  • Charter flight for eligible Canadians has taken off and on the way to CFB Trenton in Ontario.
  • 47 Canadians among more than 630 people from the cruise ship to test positive for COVID-19.
  • Local media report that 2 Japanese passengers who tested positive for coronavirus have died.
  • 8 confirmed coronavirus cases in Canada, no deaths.
  • No one under quarantine in Trenton, Ont., has shown coronavirus symptoms, health minister says.

Canadian passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan who did not test positive for COVID-19 are on a charter flight that took off from Tokyo airport and is expected to arrive at CFB Trenton in Ontario in the wee hours of Friday morning. 

CFB Trenton was the destination for previous repatriation flights that brought people back to Canada from Wuhan, China — the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

But instead of staying there, the Diamond Princess returnees will be transported to the NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ont., where they will be placed in quarantine for up to 14 days. 

Canadian passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship arrive to board a plane at Haneda airport in Tokyo. They are now in the air and expected to land at CFB Trenton in Ontario just after midnight Friday. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

There were 256 Canadians on the ship, which has been docked in Yokohama since early February. Of those, 47 have tested positive for COVID-19, Global Affairs Canada said. Those passengers are not among those returning to Canada on the repatriation flight. 

Allan and Diana Chow, an Ontario couple who were also on the Diamond Princess, have been eager to get off the ship, which Allan previously described as a “floating jailhouse.”

The pair, who have been sending photos back to their daughter in Toronto who then posts to Twitter, noted their arrival at the Tokyo airport on Thursday. 

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) said that if space allowed, non-Canadian immediate family of citizens and permanent residents would be allowed on the flight to allow families to stay together. It’s not yet clear how many people ended up on the flight.

If people chose not to return home on the charter flight, GAC said they would have to finish the quarantine being run by health officials in Japan and follow local instructions.

“Canadians seeking to return to Canada by commercial means will be subject to the Quarantine Act upon their return, in line with a determination to be made by the Public Health Agency of Canada,” the statement read, though it did not say exactly what that would mean for those who elect not to board the charter.

No coronavirus cases in Trenton quarantine

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said that none of the people who have been in quarantine at CFB Trenton have shown symptoms of coronavirus. Two flights brought back approximately 300 Canadians and their families evacuated from Wuhan earlier this month. 

The passengers from the first flight are completing their 14-day quarantine and due to be sent home on Friday.  

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Canada remains eight —  five in British Columbia and three in Ontario, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. There have been no deaths in Canada.   

Cruise ship case numbers increase

On Thursday, Japan said another 13 people from the ship had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to more than 630.

The increase came after local media reported that two Japanese citizens who had contracted the virus while on the ship had died.

The two patients who died, an 87-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman, had both tested positive for the virus although the woman’s cause of death was listed as pneumonia, the Health Ministry said. Two government officials who had worked on the ship were infected, it added, bringing the number of infected officials to five.

Public broadcaster NHK reported that 27 people from the ship were in serious condition. Kyodo News has previously reported 29 were in serious condition.

Hundreds of passengers who were cleared were able to get off the ship on Wednesday, the first batch of travellers to leave the ship after the two-week quarantine ended.

The coronavirus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, apparently in a wildlife market, and has now infected some 75,000 people and killed about 2,100.

The vast majority of cases and deaths have been in China, and more specifically Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, but the global spread appears inexorable.

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