The federal government says there are now 43 Canadians on a quarantined cruise ship in Japan who have contracted the novel coronavirus, just as others from the Diamond Princess are set to arrive home later this week.
At last count more than 450 people from the Diamond Princess, held in the port of Yokohama, had tested positive for the virus known as COVID-19. Authorities both in Japan and here say only people who are examined and found healthy would be allowed to fly to quarantine in Canada.
But not everyone who is healthy will travel.
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says some aboard the cruise ship have indicated they plan to stay with ill family members, but their travel home, whenever it happens, will be tracked.
They too will be subject to quarantine rules when they land.
She said there are others aboard the cruise ship who officials are still trying to get in touch with.
In all, there are 256 Canadians aboard the cruise ship.
Those who have requested and been cleared to fly will leave Japan on Thursday and then arrive at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, in southern Ontario, for health examinations before being moved on to a Nav Canada training centre in Cornwall, Ont., which includes a large hotel.
Hajdu said the amount of time they stay in quarantine will be unique to each person based on the symptoms they show and whether they test positive for the virus.
“In every circumstance, we’ll be considering that particular person’s health and the risk of further infection,” Hajdu said during a press conference in Trenton.
“What we’re trying to do as a country is do our global part in containing the spread in Canada and I will say that I am very proud of the work that’s been happening at all levels of jurisdiction to reach that goal together.”
Hajdu visited the military base on Tuesday. CFB Trenton is housing Canadians airlifted from Wuhan, China, where the virus was first detected.
She met health workers, Canadian Armed Forces members and staff from the Red Cross, who are all trying to keep the people in quarantine healthy and not too bored while they wait out the incubation period for the respiratory illness.
So far, no cases of COVID-19 have been detected there.
Most cases of the virus are mild, but the illness can be deadly, especially in people who are already in poor health. Eight people in Canada have tested positive for the virus, out of about 350 suspected cases, and none has died.