A second positive case of coronavirus has been reported on board HMCS Halifax, a day after the frigate docked in the city after a 6-month deployment, the military said on Tuesday.
When the first case was confirmed on Monday, it forced crew members to stay on board and postponing long-awaited reunions between sailors and their families and friends.
“This is absolutely the first incident where a ship had come back from a trip with COVID,” said Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia, commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic and Joint Task Force Atlantic, in an interview on Tuesday.
The military said the two crew members who tested positive will quarantine by themselves for 14 days in military housing at Canadian Forces Base Halifax.
No additional cases were reported after the latest round of tests. Many of the remaining crew members were allowed to go home Tuesday, though they will have to isolate for a minimum of 7 days and return two negative results.
Of those crew members, 23 are unable to go back home to isolate for various reasons. They will quarantine instead at CFB Halifax.
The others can complete their isolation with family at home, and those family members will not be required to self-isolate. The isolation must be done in Nova Scotia.
“The physical health and mental well-being of our members is key to every decision we make,” Santarpia said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“We know that HMCS Halifax’s arrival was not what anyone had wanted but our initial approach and this subsequent direction has allowed us the flexibility to reconnect our sailors with their loves ones as quickly and safely as possible.”
Santarpia told the media that there were 237 members on board, and all except one were fully vaccinated. That individual is isolating on base away from family, as if they had coronavirus.
All in all, the military said the crew is considered a “medium risk.”
HMCS Halifax had been in Europe for NATO’s Operation Reassurance. Santarpia said on Monday that the vessel made a stop in Reykjavik, Iceland, before advancing home and crew were allowed to go ashore.
5 crew members to depart Saturday
Five crew personnel from the group isolating on base are set to leave Saturday on HMCS Fredericton, as long as they return negative tests for COVID-19 two more times before leaving.
Santarpia said he is thankful to Public Health for its fast reaction to the positive cases, and to the public for their show of support on social media.
“I think they [the crew] really do feel that support,” he said.