Officials try to head off Cornwall, Ont., coronavirus concerns

Federal and provincial public health officials spoke in Cornwall, Ont., on Monday in an attempt to quell any concerns about the use of a local facility as a quarantine zone.

Cruise ship passengers will spend 14 days in quarantine at the Nav Centre

Cornwall, Ont. Mayor Bernadette Clement, right, sits at a press conference with Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, left, of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and Dr. Howard Njoo, centre, of the Public Health Agency of Canada. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Federal and provincial public health officials are attempting to quell any concerns of locals about the use of a Cornwall, Ont., facility as a quarantine zone for Canadians from an evacuated cruise ship.

On Saturday, the Canadian government announced it had chartered a plane to bring home Canadians from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been docked in Japan since Feb. 3 over concerns about COVID-19, the new coronavirus.

Approximately 250 Canadians are aboard the quarantined ship. Those who will be repatriated will be screened in Japan, then at the Canadian Forces base in Trenton, Ont., before spending two weeks under further quarantine at the Nav Centre in Cornwall, southeast of Ottawa.

"At no point will the general public have access to or be able to come in contact with any individuals under quarantine,"  said Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy public health officer with the Public Health Agency of Canada, at the news conference.

Njoo said that quarantined people will remain in their rooms in the Nav Centre along the St. Lawrence River during the 14-day period, with the exception of outdoor leisure time with specified boundaries.

The cruise ship is carrying around 3,600 crew members and passengers, including a 75-year-old couple from Cantley, Que., who have tested positive for the virus and will be staying in Japan for treatment.

Mayor wants to 'move on'

Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement said she wants to move on after being initially frustrated over what she said was a lack of communication with federal officials.

Cornwall, Ont., Mayor Bernadette Clement at a news conference Feb. 17, 2020. (CBC)

"I'm not going to live in the place of frustration. I can't because there is too much to do and too much communication that needs to take place for the residents of Cornwall," she said during the news conference.

"I am feeling much more confident going forward that we're going to have the federal government and the lead agencies fill that void."

Clement initially raised concerns about the plan to use the Nav Centre in a video posted to Facebook Sunday morning.

Cornwall's Conservative MP Eric Duncan echoed those frustrations over lack of communication on Monday.

"This has been an absolute failure from a communication and public relations perspective. Frankly the residents of the City of Cornwall deserve much better from their federal government," Duncan wrote.

It's not yet known when the plane will be ready.

Anyone who shows symptoms of the virus will not be permitted to board in Japan and will be transferred to the Japanese health system. 

Canadians who were quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess will spend two weeks under observation at the Nav Centre in Cornwall, Ont., once they return to the country. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

If any passenger shows symptoms while aboard the plane, Njoo said they will remain in Trenton and will not be transferred to Cornwall.

The federal government said Saturday that those who remain in Japan will continue to receive consular services through the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo.