7 sailors test positive for COVID-19 aboard Canadian navy ship bound for Esquimalt, B.C.

HMCS Winnipeg sails past the Greater Victoria shoreline en route to Hawaii with embarked Royal Canadian Air Force CH-148 Cyclone helicopters for the Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC) on August 6, 2020. (Dan Bard/Canadian Forces)

The Canadian Armed Forces has confirmed that seven sailors aboard the HMCS Winnipeg have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday.

The ship, which has been at sea since April 19 for training, is set to return to the Canadian navy base in Esquimalt, B.C., on Thursday evening.

Once the ship docks, the crewmembers who tested positive for COVID-19 will isolate at home for seven days since the onset of their symptoms, according to Anthony Wright, senior public affairs officer for MARPAC (the Royal Canadian Navy Maritime Forces Pacific Formation).

"The number one priority is the safety of Canadian Forces members, their families, and the public," said Wright.

"Every step dictated by the past two years of experience dealing with COVID-19 is being taken to ensure the health and welfare of the defence team and the Canadian public, while continuing to remain effective in what we’re required to accomplish at sea," he said.

Wright says that while the ship was at sea, sailors were told to get a rapid antigen test from the vessel's medical team if they felt unwell.

The ship's onboard physician's assistant was also actively monitoring cleaning in high-traffic areas, he says.

"Over the past two years, using experience and science as guidance, several procedures and policies have been put in place to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on sailors and naval operations," said Wright.

The public affairs officer added that everyone aboard the ship is vaccinated against COVID-19, and that N95 masks are available onboard for all crew members who ask for one.

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