Tag Archives: Cruise

Cruise ship races to evacuate residents from Caribbean island of St. Vincent as volcano threatens to erupt

Authorities in the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent have ordered mandatory evacuations on Thursday, saying they believe an active volcano is in danger of exploding.

The island’s emergency management office switched the alert level to red and said the first cruise line will in the next few hours evacuate those who live near La Soufrière volcano. It was not immediately clear how many people would be evacuated, where the ship would take them or if they would remain temporarily aboard.

Roughly 16,000 people live in the red zone and will need to be evacuated, Erouscilla Joseph, director of the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Center, told The Associated Press.

Evacuation efforts could be hampered by the pandemic.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told a news conference that people have to be vaccinated if they go aboard a cruise ship or are granted temporary refuge in other nearby islands.

‘An emergency situation’

He said two Royal Caribbean cruise ships are expected to arrive by Friday and a third one in the coming days, as well as two Carnival cruise ships by Friday. Islands that have said they would accept evacuees include St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua.

“Not everything is going to go perfect, but if we all co-operate … we will come through this stronger than ever,” Gonsalves said.

He said he was talking to other Caribbean governments to accept people’s ID cards if they don’t have a passport.

“This is an emergency situation, and everybody understands that,” he said.

Gonsalves added that he highly recommends those who opt to go to a shelter in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an island chain of more than 100,000 people, be vaccinated.

Joseph said emergency management teams have been going out to communities in the red zone and providing transportation to safer locations, including prearranged shelters.

“They know who doesn’t have transportation because all of this has been canvassed before,” she said, adding that those who board the cruise ship would not be taken elsewhere but would remain there for an unspecified period of time.

Officials said the dome of the volcano located on the island’s northern region could be seen glowing by nightfall. The alert issued Thursday evening follows days of seismic activity around La Soufrière.

Volcano could erupt in hours or days

Gonsalves urged people to remain calm and orderly.

“I don’t want you panicked,” he said. “That is the worst thing to do.”

Scientists alerted the government about a possible eruption after noting a specific type of seismic activity at 3 a.m. local time on Thursday that indicated “magma was on the move close to the surface,” Joseph said.

“Things are escalating pretty quickly,” she said of the volcanic activity, adding that it was impossible to provide an exact forecast of what might happen in the next few hours or days.

A team from the seismic centre arrived in St. Vincent in late December after the volcano had an effusive eruption. They have been analyzing the formation of a new volcanic dome, changes to its crater lake, seismic activity and gas emissions, among other things.

The volcano last erupted in 1979, and a previous eruption in 1902 killed some 1,600 people.

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CBC | World News

Messi, Barcelona cruise past Ronaldo-less Juventus in Champions League

There was no Cristiano Ronaldo on the field and no fans in the stands to see Barcelona and Lionel Messi beat Juventus 2-0 away in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Ronaldo’s lingering COVID-19 case prevented a first meeting between him and Messi in the group stage of a competition they have combined to win nine times.

Barcelona took an early lead in Turin through Ousmane Dembele and had plenty of chances to seal the win long before Messi scored a penalty as 90 minutes ticked over into stoppage time.

Marcus Rashford scored a hat trick as Manchester United beat Leipzig 5-0 at home, while Chelsea brushed aside Krasnodar 4-0 in Russia, giving England’s four clubs a sweep of wins this week without conceding a goal.

A wave of second-half goals also earned wins for Paris Saint-Germain — after losing Neymar early to injury — Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla.

Some of the gloss went out of the Juve-Barca game — the repeat of a standout final in 2015 — when Ronaldo was ruled out in the morning. His virus infection was revealed more than two weeks ago while on international duty with Portugal.

Barcelona quickly pushed back the Italian champion and Antoine Griezmann’s shot struck a post in the second minute. The lead arrived in the 14th from Dembele’s deflected, looping shot.

Barcelona’s forwards were often hesitant and wasteful, with even Messi missing the target with a clear shooting chance on his left foot.

Juventus officially had no shots on target yet its No. 9 Alvaro Morata had a hat-trick of goals disallowed for offside calls. The third would have levelled in the 55th but was ruled out more than two minutes later after a video review.

Also in Group G, Ferencvaros and Dynamo Kyiv missed the chance to join Juventus on three points by drawing 2-2 in Budapest before a crowd of 6,171.

Ferencvaros coach Serhiy Rebrov, who played and coached at Dynamo, saw his team fall two down in the first half, then earn a point with substitute Franck Boli’s 90th-minute strike.

Roman in Russia

Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich used his team’s trip to his home country to make a rare visit to see a game.

Abramovich, whose British visa was withdrawn in 2018 during diplomatic tensions with Russia, was rewarded with a 4-0 win in Krasnodar.

Chelsea’s players are not used to seeing their owner, nor any fans at games. There were 10,544 spectators in the first paying crowd Chelsea has played for since the coronavirus pandemic was declared in March.

Hakim Ziyech, in his first start for the 2012 European champion, scored in a late burst of goals. Another expensive summer signing, Timo Werner, scored a penalty after regular taker Jorginho missed from the spot in the 14th. United States international Christian Pulisic came off the bench to score in stoppage time.

Sevilla, who drew 0-0 at Chelsea last week, also has four points in Group E after beating Rennes 1-0.

Kean steps up

Italian forward Moise Kean’s goals lifted Paris Saint-Germain to a 2-0 win at Istanbul Basaksehir after Neymar limped off with a muscle strain.

Kean, who is on loan to PSG from Premier League leader Everton, scored in the 64th and 79th minutes. After two goals in the French league at the weekend, Kean already matched his goals tally for all of last season in England.

For a game between teams owned by the government of Turkey and the state of Qatar, PSG wore a uniform in the maroon of Qatar’s national flag. The official attendance was 350.

Regal Rashford

Manchester United’s Rashford has had a stunning October on and off the field, leading a campaign against child poverty that embarrassed the British government.

Rashford, who scored the winning goal at PSG last week, came off the bench to score a late hat trick and seal United’s 5-0 rout of Leipzig, a semifinalist last season.

Another homegrown young forward, Mason Greenwood, opened the scoring in the first half and Anthony Martial scored a penalty.

United leads Group H with a maximum six points, three ahead of PSG and Leipzig.

Young stars

Borussia Dortmund’s coveted young forwards Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland both scored late to beat Russian champion Zenit St. Petersburg 2-0.

Neither game in Group F was played with fans in the stands, and Lazio travelled to Belgium with barely enough first-team players due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.

Lazio still earned a 1-1 draw at Club Brugge to give both four points, one clear of favoured Dortmund with top-seeded Zenit last after two defeats.

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CBC | Soccer News

Canadian crew stranded on 2 cruise ships finally allowed home

Canadians working aboard two cruise ships, who have been prevented from coming ashore due to COVID-19 concerns, have finally been allowed to return home.

Global Affairs Canada said Saturday that 18 Canadians and one permanent resident on Holland America’s Koningsdam disembarked and had left Los Angeles on Friday. 

Several dozen others left Princess Cruises’s Emerald Princess in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday and headed to Miami where they boarded a chartered flight to Toronto, according to statements from the government and the cruise line. Global Affairs said the group included 49 Canadian citizens and five permanent residents. 

Earlier this week in Nassau, Bahamas, crew members from Canada aboard the Emerald Princess were told to prepare to be flown home in a charter plane, but the Bahamian government did not allow the ship to dock

‘Like a mini-vacation,’ but only at first

“We’re in Toronto and feeling great even though it’s snowing,” Michelle Joly, a singer with Princess Cruises, said in a phone interview Saturday after her charter flight arrived from Florida.

Joly said her first two weeks with only crew on board were sweet. She was performing aboard the Sky Princess when all the passengers were offloaded on March 14, and she said she continued to perform every second night for her fellow crew members.

“We felt like we were having our own mini vacation. We were allowed to utilize a lot of the guest areas that we wouldn’t
normally use, like the pools, and the pizza and burger place was open,” said Joly.

That changed on April 1 when they had to go into self-quarantine and were confined to their cabins, only being allowed out for brief periods, such as for meals. Then she was transferred to the Emerald Princess on April 26, she said.

In this April 28 photo provided by Melinda Mann, she shows the empty deck on board the Koningsdam, a Holland America cruise ship. Mann, a youth program manager for the cruise line, was stuck on board for weeks. (Melinda Mann via AP)

Global Affairs said the Canadian government continues to work with airlines, cruise lines and foreign governments to bring Canadians home.

“We encourage Canadian crew members on cruise ships who are experiencing difficulties in returning to Canada to contact the closest Canadian consulate or embassy, or Global Affairs Canada headquarters, to request consular assistance,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Approximately 99 U.S. crew members were also allowed to leave both ships, Princess Cruises said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that about 80,000 crew members remained on board ships off the U.S. coast after most passengers had disembarked. There are hundreds of Canadians on dozens of ships yet to return home.

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CBC | World News

Norwegian and Carnival cruise lines headed in opposite directions as industry cautiously plans reopening

The world’s third-largest cruise ship operator cast doubt on its ability to stay afloat as a company for much longer, even as one of its biggest rivals said it is taking its first tentative steps toward reopening after COVID-19.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. warned investors it doesn’t have enough money to cover its financial obligations this year, an announcement that caused shares in the company to sell off heavily.

“COVID-19 has had, and is expected to continue to have, a significant impact on our financial condition and operations, which adversely affects our ability to obtain acceptable financing to fund resulting reductions in cash from operations,” Norwegian Cruise Line said.

The company said that as of April 24, advanced bookings for the remainder of the year were “meaningfully lower than the prior year, with pricing down mid-single digits.”

The company announced an emergency stock and bond sale to raise $ 1.6 billion US to try to keep the company afloat

Norwegian shares lost about 20 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange to change hands just below $ 12 a share. As recently as February, those same shares were worth more than $ 55 apiece.

Cruise ships have been thrown into disarray by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a “no sail” order to all cruise companies in U.S. waters on March 14.

That order was set to expire on April 10, but has since been extended multiple times. Unless there is a further extension, the no sail order is set to expire on July 24. But Norwegian’s dire warnings on Tuesday cast doubt on its ability to stay in business.

The company has suspended all of its cruises at least until the end of June, and has so far provided no indication of when it could conceivably set sail again.

In a regulatory filing the company said it owed $ 6 billion at the end of last year and given its lack of revenue, its current debts “have raised substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern, as the Company does not have sufficient liquidity to meet its obligations over the next twelve months.”

Carnival announces 8 new cruises in August

Norwegian’s bleak tone for its future comes as rival Carnival said it is taking the first tentative steps toward reopening operations later this summer.

Carnival — the world’s largest cruise operator, which owns 27 ships and transported five million people last year — said it is booking eight cruises scheduled to leave from Texas and Florida some time in August, bound for destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico.

“We continue to engage with the CDC and government officials at a variety of levels about new protocols we would implement prior to a return to sailing,” the company said. “We will also be in discussions with officials in the destinations we visit.”

Carnival’s CEO recently said the company can last through 2020 with no revenue from cruises.

Royal Caribbean, the world’s second-largest cruise operator, has yet to make any public announcements about when it may return to service.

Uncertain future

The cruise industry dominated by those three names was left out of a $ 2.3-trillion US stimulus package for troubled companies as the major players are all incorporated outside the United States.

Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University’s College of Public Health, said she’s not sure how cruising can be done safely. Even with reduced capacity, she said, ventilation systems can still spread droplets through enclosed spaces.

“Everything would still have to be distanced,” she said. “Dancing, concerts on board, other types of entertainment? Doubtful. Pools? Probably overcrowded. Dining? No idea how they’d do it.”

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CBC | World News

‘Have a little compassion’: Canadians on cruise ship with 4 dead still unsure how they’ll get home

With a flu-like illness outbreak, four dead and confirmed cases of COVID-19, it’s been a horrific week for the 1,243 passengers — including 247 Canadians — stuck aboard the Zaandam, a Holland America Line cruise ship that was sailing off the coast of Panama.

Now, passengers can add more problems to the list: although Panama allowed the Zaandam to pass through the Panama Canal, passengers still don’t know for certain where the cruise ship will dock, and when they’ll be able to return home. 

That’s because while the ship has plans to dock and let passengers disembark in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., county officials in the region are concerned about letting in a coronavirus-hit ship.

“They’re not wanting us there, so where are we going to go?” said passenger Cheryle Stothard of Toronto. She and her husband have been confined to their cabin for the past week, because of the illness outbreak. 

“Going through the Panama Canal is useless if we can’t get off in Florida,” said the 71-year-old.

Cheryle Stothard and husband Tony of Toronto are still aboard the Zaandam and have developed a cough and runny nose. (Submitted by Cheryle Stothard)

Since cutting short its South American cruise on March 14 due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, the Zaandam has been seeking a place to dock so passengers can return home. 

On Friday, Holland America announced that 138 passengers and crew have fallen ill with “influenza-like illness symptoms,” and that four “older” passengers had died. The Zaandam is also carrying 586 crew members — one of whom is Canadian.

None of the dead is Canadian. Holland America didn’t provide a cause of death for the four passengers but said that the ship tested “a number” of patients for COVID-19 on Thursday, and two were positive.

Passengers grew hopeful on the weekend after learning that the Zaandam could pass through the Panama Canal. Late Sunday, the ship began moving through the canal.

But Holland America’s plan to then dock in Fort Lauderdale isn’t a done deal because Broward County, which includes the city, has yet to give the green light. 

Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine told CBC News that the county is already overrun with COVID-19 cases — more than 1,000 to date  — so he’s apprehensive about letting in a ship that will add to its problems. 

“We’re a hotspot here. Our medical facilities are taxed,” said Udine. “If there are sick people that have to come off, I want them to be able to come off … but where are they going to go? What hospitals are going to be able to take them?”

‘Somebody’s got to let us dock’

Udine’s apprehension is upsetting for passenger Margaret Tilley, who’s desperate to return to her home in Nanaimo, B.C.

“Let’s have a little compassion,” said the 71-year-old. “It just doesn’t seem right. Somebody’s got to let us dock.” 

The Zaandam began its cruise on March 7 and had initially planned to dock on March 16 in Punta Arenas, Chile, to let passengers off early. However, the country refused to allow passengers to disembark, so the ship set course for Fort Lauderdale. 

On Saturday, Tilley and her husband were moved to the Zaandam’s sister ship, the Rotterdam. Holland America sent the ship, along with medical personnel and supplies, to rendezvous with the Zaandam and transfer “healthy” passengers to the Rotterdam.

Just let us get straight from the boat to a vehicle and to the airport. We don’t want to stay in Fort Lauderdale.– Margaret Tilley, passenger

Both ships got permission to enter the Panama canal. Tilley said she wants Broward County to know that the healthy Canadians onboard won’t be a burden and just want to get home. 

“Just let us get straight from the boat to a vehicle and to the airport. We don’t want to stay in Fort Lauderdale.”

The Rotterdam cruise ship joined the Zaandam on Friday to deliver medical supplies and transfer healthy passengers to the Rotterdam. (Submitted by Margaret Tilley)

Udine said that all the passengers would have to be quarantined upon arrival, because some could be asymptomatic.

“There’s a lot of things that are going to need to be worked out by this cruise ship before they simply get disembarking in Broward County.”

Udine said the county will review a plan for how Holland America will handle the situation and likely make a decision soon. 

Meanwhile, more passengers are reporting illnesses. Stothard said that she and her husband Tony have both developed a runny nose and cough. That means they must remain in their cabin, on board the Zaandam along with other ill passengers, who are in isolation. 

“We’ve got to get off,” said Stothard. “The longer we stay on here, the more cases we’re going to have.”

Passengers Chris and Anna Joiner send a message to the Canadian government asking for help while stuck on board the Zaandam. (Submitted by Chris Joiner)

Why did they go on a cruise?

Some CBC readers wondered why passengers boarded a cruise on March 7 when COVID-19 was spreading globally.

CBC News asked several Canadian passengers aboard the Zaandam this question. They responded that when they started their journey, there were very few COVID-19 cases in South America. 

The continent didn’t have any reported cases until one was confirmed in Brazil on Feb. 26. 

Some passengers also said that, when they were set to begin their trip, there was no opportunity to get a refund. 

Tilley and her husband left Nanaimo on Feb. 28 and travelled for a week in Argentina before their cruise. She said only in hindsight does she see the warning signs. 

‘[The virus] was in China,” she said about that time period. “We thought South America would be safer.”

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CBC | Health News

Canada’s top health officer warns against all cruise ship travel as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada’s top public health officer is warning against all cruise ship travel as the federal government prepares to bring home 237 Canadians from a coronavirus-hit ship now off the coast of California.

During a news conference in Ottawa Monday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said there are now 71 presumed or confirmed cases in Canada — 34 in Ontario, 27 in British Columbia, six in Alberta and four in Quebec.

“I’ve asked Canadians to think twice about being on cruise ships. Today, the Public Health Agency of Canada is recommending that Canadians avoid all cruise ship travel due to COVID-19,” Tam said.

“The risk to the general population remains low, but this could change rapidly. We are most concerned for Canada’s vulnerable populations.”

The 237 Canadians are among 3,500 on board the cruise ship, which is expected to dock at Oakland, Calif., sometime today. They will be transported by government-chartered plane to Trenton, Ont., where they will be assessed before undergoing a 14-day quarantine.

Nineteen crew members and two passengers have tested positive for the virus aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, which was headed to Oakland this morning after sitting off San Francisco for days.

During Monday’s briefing, Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said passengers will not be permitted to board the airlift if they are showing any symptoms of coronavirus. Those passengers displaying symptoms will instead be treated in the U.S.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland have written to their provincial and territorial counterparts to take stock of possible medical resource gaps ahead of a ministers’ meeting later this week.

The letter states that all levels of government are readying resources, mobilizing public services and getting prepared “as quickly as possible.” It says federal officials have been taking “critical steps” to ensure public confidence in the health care system and to empower Canadians to make sound choices to keep their families healthy.

“We are reaching out to you today to ensure that as a country, we are as prepared as we can be, and to reconfirm for you that the government of Canada is ready to support you and all Canadians,” the letter reads.

“We are already leading a bulk procurement of personal protective equipment in which many of you are participating. We are ready to convene and help. To do so, we need to be able to understand what your challenges may be and how we can best continue to work together.”

The letter asks premiers to report on their state of readiness and on any critical supply or capacity gaps before the first ministers meeting in Ottawa later this week, so the federal government can respond to potential challenges ahead.

The letter also notes the financial impact of the global outbreak.

“The related economic implications resulting from COVID-19, whether those be narrowing export markets, decreased tourism, pressures on the supply chain or dropping commodity prices, are a significant concern and we know that Canadians are not just experiencing this solely as a public health issue,” the letter reads.

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CBC | Health News

COVID-19 outbreak: ‘Think twice’ before taking a cruise, top health official warns

Canada’s chief public health officer is warning travellers, especially the elderly and those with fragile health, to reconsider going on cruises after cases of the coronavirus were confirmed on a cruise ship which has Canadians on board. 

“Think twice about going on cruise ships,” said Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday, noting they “present environments where COVID-19 can spread easily given close contacts between passengers and crew for significant periods of time.”

Tam said that even if people on a cruise do not contract the virus they could be quarantined by destination countries for extended periods of time, increasing the risk of infection. 

State officials on Thursday quarantined the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California over fears of a possible outbreak. There are 235 Canadians among the 3,500 passengers and crew on board.

According to a statement from the cruise line, fewer than 100 guests and crew members were initially identified for testing by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Test kits were delivered by air to the ship Thursday.

On Friday, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said that so far 46 people have been tested and 21 came back positive; 19 crew and two passengers. It remains unclear if any Canadians tested positive. 

Pence said that the Grand Princess will be moved to a non-commercial port where all 3,500 people on board will be tested. 

The ship was quarantined after a traveler from its previous voyage — a Feb. 11-21 trip to Hawaii — died of COVID-19 and at least two others became infected.

Tam said there were 260 Canadians aboard that voyage and that the Public Health Agency of Canada has their names. That list, Tam said, has passed to provincial health authorities who are following up with those who have returned home. 

Tam also said that so far three of Canada’s 54 confirmed or presumptive cases of coronavirus were travelers on Grand Princess’ trip to Hawaii. 

Another cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, was quarantined by Japanese officials last month because of a coronavirus outbreak. A passenger on a third ship, the Westerdam, tested positive after the vessel docked in Cambodia.

Canadians being tested

More than 4,500 people have been tested for the virus across Canada. Tam said that all provinces and territories are fully equipped to continue testing and additional help is available from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. 

With more than 100,000 cases reported in more than 90 countries, and the situation continuing to change daily, Tam said all March Break travellers should regularly check the federal government’s travel advisory for their destination country because information is on destination countries is constantly changing. 

“With so many countries reporting cases of COVID-19, all travellers have to be very vigilant in closely monitoring their health for 14 days after entering Canada. At the first sign of even mild symptoms; stay home,” Tam said. 

If those symptoms develop, Tam says that people should call their local Public Health Office so they can determine if testing for the virus is required. 

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CBC | Health News

Charter flight carrying quarantined cruise passengers lands at CFB Trenton

The charter plane carrying Canadian passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has landed at CFB Trenton in Ontario.

The plane, which landed just after 2 a.m. ET, was carrying passengers from the cruise liner that was quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, since early February due to an outbreak of COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus.

All repatriated passengers on the chartered flight had tested negative for the virus.

Lolita Wiesner, who was on the Diamond Princess cruise ship to celebrate her anniversary, said medics boarded the plane shortly after landing to take passengers’ temperatures and deliver meals. 

Of the Diamond Princess’s roughly 3,700 passengers and crew, more than 600 have contracted COVID-19, including 47 out of 256 Canadians on board.

The Canadians who contracted the illness did not board the flight.

The passengers who landed at CFB Trenton will be screened for the virus again before heading to the Nav Centre in Cornwall, Ont., where they will be quarantined again for 14 days as a precaution.

Canadian passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who did not test positive for COVID-19 arrived at CFB Trenton on Friday. (Lolita Wiesner/Facebook)

As that quarantine gets underway, another group of people are due to be released today from separate quarantine in Trenton.Canadians evacuated from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak, were quarantined at Yukon Lodge after returning to Canada on Feb. 7.

The Nav Centre is a hotel, conference and community centre. It has previously been used by the federal government as an emergency shelter.

Some Cornwall residents, including Mayor Bernadette Clement, were surprised and expressed concern about hosting the cruise ship passengers at a facility that’s open to the public and not typically used for medical purposes.

Canadians who were quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess will spend 2 weeks under observation at the Nav Centre in Cornwall, Ont. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

Representatives from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which is handling the operation, said no one under quarantine will be in contact with the general public.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) said the section of the Nav Centre that will be used is isolated and has its own ventilation system separate from the rest of the complex.

Health officials said in a press conference Monday that the risk to the general public is low.

Canadian passengers from the cruise ship Diamond Princess arrive to board a plane at Haneda airport in Tokyo. The chartered flight landed at CFB Trenton in Ontario early Friday morning. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

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CBC | Health News

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 en route to CFB Trenton in Ontario.
  • 47 Canadians among more than 630 people from the cruise ship to test positive for coronavirus.
  • Local media report that 2 Japanese passengers who tested positive have died.
  • 8 confirmed coronavirus cases in Canada, no deaths.
  • No one under quarantine in Trenton, Ont., has shown symptoms, health minister says.

Canadian passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan who did not test positive for the coronavirus 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 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. 

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne tweeted that the plane was “wheels up” on Thursday afternoon. 

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 Diamond Princess, which has been docked in Yokohama since early February. Of those, 47 have tested positive for the virus, 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 departure from the ship 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.

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.   

2 Japanese passengers die

Japan reported the deaths of two elderly passengers from the Diamond Princess on Thursday, the first fatalities from aboard the ship where more than 630 cases account for the biggest cluster of infection outside China.

The two passengers, an 87-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman, both Japanese, had tested positive for the virus and been taken off the ship and hospitalized, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

“Our hearts go out to the families, friends and all who are impacted by these losses,” the cruise line said in a statement to CBC News. “All of us at Princess Cruises, as well as the crew of the Diamond Princess, offer our sincere condolences.”

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.

Hajdu admitted to “concern” that Japan’s handling of the outbreak might have increased the spread of the virus on board the ship. 

“But I can also empathize with Japan in terms of quarantining almost 3,000 people,” the health minister said. “That’s also a very challenging situation.” 

WATCH | Health minister on lessons learned from the Diamond Princess:

Patty Hajdu says Canada is preparing for how it would deal with an outbreak of disease during tourist season. 0:33

That situation was something for Canada to “keep our eye on as we enter into cruise season,” she said, noting that the government was “making some preparations now to consider how we’ll deal with our own tourist season.”

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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CBC | Health News

Justin Bieber Explains Why He Challenged Tom Cruise to a Fight in Hilarious New ‘Carpool Karaoke’

Justin Bieber Explains Why He Challenged Tom Cruise to a Fight in Hilarious New ‘Carpool Karaoke’ | Entertainment Tonight

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