Canadian troops headed to Latvia turn around, return home due to COVID-19 scare

OTTAWA — A military plane carrying Canadian troops to Latvia was forced to turn around because of concerns those on board might have been exposed to COVID-19.

Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande says the Polaris aircraft carrying about 70 military members and aircrew took off from Canadian Forces Base Trenton on July 2 and those on board had spent two weeks in quarantine.

Read more: Calgary soldiers ‘absolutely stoked’ to be joining NATO forces in Latvia

All military personnel deploying on overseas missions are required to undergo such quarantine measures to ensure they do not carry COVID-19 to another country or spread it among their unit.

Coronavirus: Gen. Vance discusses the 55 Canadian Forces members who contracted COVID-19 while deployed to long-term care homes

Coronavirus: Gen. Vance discusses the 55 Canadian Forces members who contracted COVID-19 while deployed to long-term care homes

Despite those precautions, the plane was forced to turn around in midair after the military received word that someone at CFB Trenton who have come in contact with the plane and passengers had tested positive for the illness.

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Read more: Canadian soldiers leave Edmonton for Latvia to play role in ‘deterrence mission’ for NATO

Those on board will now have to undergo another 14 days in isolation before resuming their mission, though Defence Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said the delay would not have any major effects on Canada’s mission in Latvia.

Canada is currently contributing around 540 troops to a NATO battlegroup in Latvia whose primary mission is to deter Russian military activity in eastern Europe.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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