5 Canadian Forces members assisting in long-term care homes diagnosed with COVID-19

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says Canada needs to ‘minimize’ risks for CAF members fighting COVID-19
WATCH ABOVE: Trudeau says Canada needs to 'minimize' risks for CAF members fighting COVID-19

Five Canadian Armed Forces members who are helping out at long-term care facilities during the pandemic have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

A statement from CAF said four of those members are assisting at care homes in Quebec, while the other is stationed in Ontario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that the government would take a look at safety protocols.

READ MORE: How Canada’s nursing homes can be fixed to avoid repeat of COVID-19 outbreak

“We need to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect them, so we will look at the protocols in place and see if and how they can be strengthened, as well as ensuring that cases of COVID-19 don’t spread throughout the Canadian Armed Forces and others who are serving our country.”

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Care homes and assisted living facilities have been hard hit by outbreaks during the pandemic. Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said deaths in those homes account for more than 80 per cent of the nation’s fatalities.

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There are about 1,400 members assisting at 25 facilities in Quebec, and 275 in place at five homes in Ontario.

More than 1,000 CAF members working at Quebec care homes
More than 1,000 CAF members working at Quebec care homes

The military said members are taking “extraordinary precautions” to prevent the spread of the virus. Personnel received training ahead of the deployment, including on how to wear personal protective equipment.

The CAF said it would be providing updates every two weeks on how many of its members active in care homes are affected by COVID-19.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Over 1,000 CAF members sent to Quebec long-term care homes, more to come by mid-May

“The health and well-being of our military personnel and their loved ones remains a priority for us, which will help safeguard our readiness to assist civilian authorities in times of crisis such as we are experiencing now.”

Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s chief public health official, said he had no information on CAF members contracting COVID-19.

“As they are from the army, they are under the federal government. If they need care we will take care of them but I don’t have the specific data.”

Premier François Legault was asked if Quebec has a plan if the situation escalates — he said he won’t answer hypotheticals.

— With a file from Alessia Simona Maratta, Global News

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