Teddy bears and colouring books — certainly not an everyday sight at Yukon Lodge, CFB Trenton’s 290-room motel for military personnel and family members.
But it’s part of the effort to make a temporary home for the 176 Canadians airlifted from the coronavirus-affected region of Wuhan, China, who now face two weeks of quarantine on the army base.
Hygiene kits, which include Lysol wipes and laundry detergent, await the Canadians when they enter their new accommodations. But there will also be stuffed animals and games for the kids.
And there, inside their rooms, the airlifted Canadians will stay, assessed daily by medical professionals looking for any sign of the virus.
Despite the amenities, officials predict the next two weeks will be tough.
“It will be very stressful for them,” federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Thursday.
“Individuals will have to find ways to occupy themselves with very little movement on the base.”
Government announces quarantine
On Sunday night, the government announced that Canadian evacuees from the Chinese province afflicted with the novel coronavirus will be quarantined for two weeks upon their arrival at CFB Trenton, about 170 kilometres east of Toronto.
The plane carrying the Canadians is expected to arrive at one of the air hangar tarmacs at CFB Trenton sometime early Friday. The hangar has been transformed into a processing area, where roped off lines will guide Canadians to different stations, each equipped with masks and hand sanitizer bottles.
Some stations will have red flags, to alert health officials of a suspected case.
Anyone with symptoms was not allowed to board the plane in China, but those arriving at the army base who are ill or exhibiting symptoms will be immediately taken to the Ontario Emergency Medical Assistance Team (EMAT) unit section set up in the hangar.
The station has two tents, each with isolation units to isolate someone potentially infected with the virus and filter any contaminants from entering the environment.
WATCH | Inside CFB Trenton’s quarantine zone:
Otherwise, passengers, when they arrive inside the hangar, will be greeted with ‘Welcome Home’ signs, as they are processed by Canada Border Services Agency officials for immigration.
Their health will then be checked, and a number of quarantine officers will be on hand to help assess the passengers.
Huggies and teddy bears
Officials at the Canadian Red Cross station, which included boxes of disposable diapers and teddy bears, will then register the Canadians through an electronic registration system, assess them for their basic needs or any comfort items requested during their 14-day stay.
Then it’s off to the waiting area, where they will be bused to Yukon Lodge, where the rooms include high-speed wireless internet, cable TV with DVD, a fridge and microwave.
The base will also be equipped with a microbiology lab, which can swab Canadians to determine whether they have been infected with the virus. Anyone determined to be very sick will be transported to Belleville or Trenton hospitals.
‘Risks to the community remains low’
On Thursday evening, hours before the Canadians were expected to arrive, Col. Ryan Deming, Commander of 8 Wing, CFB Trenton, tried to allay any fears residents may have of the risks posed by the Canadians coming from Wuhan.
“Risks to the community remains low,” Deming said.
“We are cognizant of the potential health risks. We are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our guests.”
But area residents interviewed by CBC expressed few concerns about the influx of Canadians on the base.
“They’re probably set up a lot better than a lot of civilian agencies will be to handle this amount of people with this kind of threat on relatively short notice,” said Brian Hicks, 57, who used to work on the base.
“So now we have to adjust. As a community, we have to adjust.”
Colleen Fox said she believes Yukon Lodge is set up well for this kind of situation.
“I was kind of proud that our town gets to be involved,” she said.