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5:13 p.m.: A military plane carrying Canadian troops to Latvia was forced to turn around and return home because of concerns those on board might have been exposed to COVID-19.
The Polaris aircraft carrying about 70 military members and aircrew took off from Canadian Forces Base Trenton on July 2 after those on board had spent two weeks in quarantine at the Ontario base, Defence Department spokeswoman Jessical Lamirande said.
All military personnel deploying on overseas missions are required to undergo such quarantine measures as the Canadian Armed Forces has implemented strict measures to ensure troops do not carry COVID-19 to another country or spread the illness among their unit.
Yet despite those precautions, the plane was forced to turn around in midair after the military got word that someone at CFB Trenton who may have come in contact with the plane and passengers had tested positive for the illness.
“The health and well-being of our members and that of our allies and partners in Latvia is a priority,” Lamirande said in a statement. “As such, the decision was made to return the aircraft en route — rather than land in Latvia.”
Those on board will now have to undergo another 14 days in isolation at the base before resuming their mission, though Lamirande played down any potential impact the delay would have on Canada’s mission in Latvia.
Canada has 540 troops in Latvia, where they form the core of a 1,500-strong multinational battlegroup established by the NATO military alliance three years ago. Similar battlegroups led by Britain, Germany and the U.S. have been established in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland, respectively.
Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠