Nova Scotia

HMCS Halifax crew member tests positive for COVID-19

One member of HMCS Halifax tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the ship's return to Halifax.

Ship arrived in Halifax this morning, but won't get traditional welcome home after deployment

A crew member of HMCS Halifax gets a PCR test for COVID-19 Monday. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

One member of HMCS Halifax tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the ship's return to Halifax on Monday morning.

HMCS Halifax was in Europe for NATO's Operation Reassurance and pre-arrival COVID-19 tests yielded one positive result Sunday. 

A Maritime Forces Atlantic spokesperson said the member is asymptomatic and in good health. The military didn't say how the person contracted COVID-19.

They've been isolated from the rest of the ship, which has 252 sailors on board. Everyone else tested negative and no one is showing symptoms, the spokesperson said.

The ship arrived at HMC Dockyard in Halifax at 9 a.m. AT. The ship's company will remain at the dockyard until a round of PCR tests clears everyone.

HMCS Halifax crew didn't get the usual welcome home due to a positive COVID-19 test. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Each crew member did get a chance to talk with family Sunday.

Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia, the commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic, said the ship recently made a stop in Reykjavik, Iceland, before sailing home. Crew were permitted to go ashore. 

He said vaccines weren't mandatory, but everyone on the ship has been double vaccinated. 

Santarpia said he hopes results from the latest round of PCR tests will be available Monday.

"In an ideal world, we'll get word we just have one case and we'll figure out how we get the rest of the families home today," he said Monday.

"The most important thing for us is to make sure we keep our communities and families safe from COVID."

Cmdr. Chris Rochon told CBC's As It Happens it was "not at all" a mistake to go ashore in Iceland. He said they worked with local authorities and tried hard to observe COVID protocols. They assessed the risk as very low and it was an opportunity to give a break to their personnel who had been cooped up on the ship for most of their deployment.

Long separation gets even longer

Amy Irving's spouse, Chris, is aboard the ship. Irving got up early Monday to take her husband's 11-year-old and nine-year-old children to greet their dad.

The children, who are visiting Halifax for a month, had a "Welcome Home" sign ready when they got the news. 

"They were obviously looking forward to seeing their dad. We haven't seen him since December," Irving said Monday. 

They stood on the waterfront to wave the ship in, but had to drive home without him. 

"This positive COVID test could have been avoided. They could have just stayed on ship," she said. "It's really frustrating."

When the ship left Canada in January, friends and family said goodbye via live stream, rather than at the jetty, due to COVID-19 protocols.