FOREIGN Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Health Minister Patty Hajdu and National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on Saturday announced that the federal government had chartered a plane to repatriate Canadians on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan.
They said that this decision was taken because of the extraordinary circumstances faced by passengers on the Diamond Princess and to lighten the burden on the Japanese health-care system. “We are working closely with Carnival Cruise Lines and the Government of Japan to assist in this evacuation,” they added.
The aircraft 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.
Before boarding in Japan, passengers will be screened for symptoms. Those who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 will not be permitted to board and will instead be transferred to the Japanese health system to receive appropriate care.
Those who remain in Japan will continue to receive full consular services from the Government of Canada.
In addition to experts from the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian Armed Forces medical personnel, four members of the Standing Rapid Deployment Team (SRDT) are on the ground in Tokyo to assist Canadians.
They said: “We will continue to provide more information on travel plans for returning to Canada as it becomes available. In the meantime, we ask all Canadians aboard the Diamond Princess to continue to follow recommendations for protecting their health and the health of others while under Japanese quarantine.”
Canadians in countries affected by COVID-19 are encouraged to sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive the latest updates from the Government of Canada.
“The Government of Canada takes the health and safety of Canadians, both at home and abroad, very seriously. In light of the extraordinary circumstances facing our citizens on the Diamond Princess, we are taking action to return Canadians home from Japan, while ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to prevent and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus,” said Champagne.
“The Government of Canada will help Canadians return home following the outbreak of COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess. Our public health experts on the ground will continue to assist Canadians who are currently under quarantine in Japan or in hospital undergoing treatment,” said Hajdu.
“The women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces stand ready to assist with bringing our fellow Canadians home. We will work in close cooperation with our federal and provincial partners to welcome home those returning,” said Sajjan.
Canadians in Japan in need of emergency consular assistance can contact the Embassy of Canada to Japan in Tokyo at +81 (0) 3-5412-6200 or email [email protected] Canadians can also contact Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 or email [email protected]