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14 CAF members assisting long-term care homes diagnosed with COVID-19: source

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

Fourteen Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members assigned to the military’s COVID-19 response operation have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, Global News has learned.

According to a military source with direct knowledge of the CAF’s operations, another 43 members are also in self-isolation after potential exposure to COVID-19.

Of the 14 confirmed infections, five tested positive while assisting at the same nursing home in Ontario.

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

The five CAF members who also tested positive last week while helping out in long-term care homes in Quebec and Ontario also made up part of the 14 infections.

The source said that the infected members were all part of the military’s COVID-19 response plan — Operation Laser — and that the CAF would be sending replacements for the 57 members who’ve either been infected or exposed to the virus.

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Canada’s COVID-19 outbreak has left a trail of devastation across long-term care and seniors homes across the country, with chief public health officer Theresa Tam declaring that seniors made up over 80 per cent of Canada’s total coronavirus death toll.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau praises 265 CAF members deployed to five long-term care homes in Ontario

The CAF has sent in personnel to assist facilities during the pandemic, especially in nursing homes situated in Quebec and Ontario.

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As of May 15, a total of 1,400 CAF members were assisting 25 facilities in Quebec and another 275 were helping at five nursing homes in Ontario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said that the government would review safety protocols for CAF members helping fight the spread of the virus.

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“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.”

The military previously said its members were taking “extraordinary precautions” to stem the spread of the virus among themselves. Army personnel have received specialized training ahead of their deployment to the nursing homes, including on how to properly wear personal protective equipment.

— With files from Kerri Breen