Government charters plane to bring home Canadians aboard Grand Princess

Mar 8 2020, 4:46 pm

The Government of Canada has chartered a plane to bring home Canadians aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California.

The ship is dealing with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and the US asked Canada to take its citizens home, according to a joint statement released Sunday from Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Health Minister Patty Hajdu, and National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

“The extent and frequency of interaction amongst cruise passengers and the close quarters found on most cruise ships presents a unique environment where COVID-19 can easily spread,” their statement said.

The passengers will be collected in San Francisco and flown to Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario, where they’ll undergo a 14-day quarantine before being allowed to return home.

It’s the same process Canadians repatriated from Wuhan, China and the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan had to go through.

Passengers will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms before being allowed to board the repatriation flight. Only healthy, asymptomatic people will be allowed to board. Any Canadian who is sick will remain in San Francisco and receive care there.

Several Canadians who were on the ship’s last cruise that ended on February 21 became sick with COVID-19 after returning home, suggesting the virus has been present on board for several weeks.