HMCS Halifax crew member tests positive for COVID-19, crew to remain onboard at port
The Department of National Defence says a crew member onboard a Halifax-based Navy frigate has tested positive for COVID-19.
HMCS Halifax is scheduled to return to port in Halifax on Monday, after a six month deployment overseas.
In a release, National Defence says everyone onboard was tested for COVID-19 as part of pre-arrival protocols, with one member receiving a confirmed positive result.
Officials say the crew member is asymptomatic and feeling fine, but is isolating onboard as a precaution.
The ship will still arrive at HMC Dockyard at 9 a.m. on Monday as planned, but crew members will remain embarked and further testing will be completed for everyone onboard.
Royal Canadian Navy spokesman Mark Gough says about 250 people aboard the ship are being tested for COVID-19 and they will remain there until results are received from a provincial laboratory.
Gough says Maritime Forces Atlantic will consult with the province's health authorities to decide on next steps.
“It is unfortunate we cannot enjoy a traditional welcome home from a long deployment, but our priority is the health and safety of our sailors and their families and we will do what we can to ensure that their reunion takes place as quickly and safely as possible,” says the news release.
Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia says all crew members on board HMCS Halifax are fully vaccinated with two doses of vaccine.
"They've done a great job at keeping themselves and each other safe but as we all know it's still possible to still contract COVID,” says Santarpia.
It’s unclear exactly how the infected member contracted the virus. The ship was in Iceland prior to returning home.
“We’ve been able to go into different ports. For instance, they just came back from Reykjavík in Iceland, where they were able to go ashore and so before and after those port visits we’re doing rapid testing. If anybody tests positive, then we go to the PCR test," says Santarpia.
"It's awesome to see the ship sail back in and know that they've had a successful and safe deployment,” said Kathryn Levandier, whose brother Matthew just completed his first deployment and is on board HMCS Halifax.
“Certainly a disappointment the pomp and circumstance isn't what it normally would be but exciting to see them nonetheless, definitely a disappointment for the crew I'm sure to not be able to reunite with their families right away.”
HMCS Halifax left Halifax on January 1 as part of Operation Reassurance.July 19, 2021