The Northern Advocate
Frigate takes Covid hit in Canada
Twelve New Zealand Royal Navy personnel and family members have been infected with Covid-19 in Canada.
They are part of 103 naval personnel in Canada with the frigate HMNZS Te Mana, which is undergoing a major Frigate Systems Upgrade (FSU) of its combat capabilities and surveillance and counter measures.
HMNZS Te Mana Commander Mike Peebles said as of yesterday there were 12 active cases, six of whom were RNZN personnel and six family members.
“They are all showing only mild symptoms and some are now starting to recover,” he said.
Some of the Navy personnel had family with them, staying in an accommodation building 12km from the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt where the upgrade was being done.
“It is this accommodation which is at the centre of the cases,” he said.
A total of 46 people (21 RNZN personnel and 25 family members) are in isolation as a precaution. So far 40 negative tests have been returned. Other personnel staying in other areas of the base are following appropriate Covid-19 protocols.
Peebles said the situation was “contained”, and the prompt action taken to identify and isolate affected personnel reduced the impact to personnel and the project.
Work on the upgrade has been suspended until later this month. Vaccinations are due to begin next month, with second doses in June.
In a statement, the Navy hailed the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Armed Forces “who have embraced our personnel as their own”.
“They, and local health authorities are ensuring those of our people affected have everything they need to make a full recovery.
“NZDF personnel and their dependants currently offshore are all screened for health vulnerabilities before they deploy and educated on protective measures to employ to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection,” the statement said.
The Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt is Canada’s Pacific Coast naval base at the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
Canada is reaching its highest point of the pandemic, with a rolling seven-day average of 8445 cases.