Canada still ‘assessing’ Diamond Princess situation as U.S. evacuates its citizens

While the United States evacuates its citizens from the quarantined Diamond Princess Cruise Ship, the Canadian government said they are still “urgently assessing” the situation.

Global Affairs Canada said in a statement to Global News on Saturday they have deployed three officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada to Japan, where the ship has been docked in Yokohama, Tokyo, since Feb. 5.

They urged Canadians quarantined on the Diamond Princess with medical concerns to consult ship personnel and medical authorities on board.

“The health and safety of Canadians is our absolute priority,” they said. “Officials from Global Affairs Canada are engaging with Japanese authorities to determine next steps.”

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said in a tweet four Standing Rapid Deployment Team members arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday. Public Health Agency officials arrived on Friday. He added two medical officers from the Canadian Armed Forces were expected to be deployed in the coming days.

The federal government said their Canadian Embassy in Japan was working to provide consular support to all 255 Canadians on board.

Princess Cruises said in a statement to Global News Saturday that 285 passengers, including 244 guests 41 crew members, had tested positive for COVID-19. The total amount of Canadians on-board infected with the virus rose to 15 after the cruise ship company confirmed 67 new cases over the weekend.

The Japanese Ministry of Health has allowed 12 “medically vulnerable” guests who tested negative for the coronavirus to disembark from the ship on Saturday. The cruise company added 55 guests who tested negative chose to remain on-board.

An elderly Quebecois couple aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday.

The couple’s daughter told The Canadian Press in an interview that Diane and Bernard Menard, both 75 years old, called around 2:30 a.m today to inform the family.

Chantal Menard said her parents were feeling weak and fragile, and were confined to their cabin on the cruise ship. She said the couple, from Gatineau, Que., are currently waiting to be transported by ambulance to a military hospital where they will be kept in isolation until they no longer test positive for the virus.

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Japan said in a statement Saturday that all 380 Americans aboard the ship would be flown to a military base on a government-chartered flight for screening. They said passengers are expected to leave Sunday evening to the Travis Air Force Base in California, where they will face a two-week quarantine upon arrival.

“To fulfill our government’s responsibilities to U.S. citizens under our rules and practices, as well as to reduce the burden on the Japanese healthcare system, the U.S. government recommends, out of an abundance of caution, that U.S. citizens disembark and return to the United States for further monitoring,” the statement read.

—With files from The Canadian Press.

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