Politics

Canadian military reports 24 active COVID cases in the ranks

A military statement released late today says there have been 222 positive cases of the novel coronavirus across the entire Armed Forces, at home and abroad, since the pandemic began.

The report marks a shift in the Armed Forces' approach to disclosing the pandemic's spread

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

The Canadian military has done an about-face and says it will now release information about the spread of COVID-19 infection in the ranks.

A military statement released late today says there have been 222 positive cases of the novel coronavirus across the entire Armed Forces, at home and abroad, since the pandemic began.

The military says 24 of those cases are considered active, while the rest have been resolved.

To date, the military has been reluctant to release much information about the rate of infections in the ranks, offering only mission-specific data related to the deployment of troops into long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec.

The decision to issue a military-wide snapshot — which has been weeks in the making — comes just as media outlets in the United States are reporting that the top U.S. general, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, and several other members of the Pentagon's senior leadership are in quarantine.

The decision to isolate came after a top U.S. Coast Guard official, Admiral Charles Ray, tested positive for coronavirus on Monday. Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman told CNN the U.S. military is conducting additional contact tracing.

The statement by Canada's Department of National Defence did not say whether any top Canadian commanders were among the cohort of confirmed cases in this country. It said only that the strategy of isolating troops at the beginning of the pandemic has been successful.

"Leadership is closely monitoring the extent of COVID-19 in the Defence Team," the statement said. "The rigorous application of public health measures and the Defence Team layered risk mitigation strategy is effectively containing the spread of the virus amongst our personnel."

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