TRENTON — On one side of the fence it looks like a city of masks.
On the other, it’s business as usual.
You have CFB Trenton and the town of Trenton (Quinte West) side by side.
And the masked population at CFB Trenton just got bigger Tuesday.
Landing at about 6 a.m., a Canadian government-chartered jet arrived with 188 new coronavirus evacuees from Wuhan, China.
On this plane, were 130 Canadian citizens, plus 58 family members.
Add the most recent arrivals to the 213 people who came in on two flights last week, the historic base’s Yukon Lodge now has 401 guests.
Of that total, authorities tell us all but 69 are Canadian citizens. Those who are not Canadians are either permanent residents or Chinese nationals here on Visas.
“The government is pleased to have welcomed home more than 400 Canadians and their family members who had been in the quarantined region of Hubei province,” Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a news release.
The federal government has not been clear what will happen when the 14-day quarantine periods are up for the recent arrivals. Where do these people go? Wherever that is, will taxpayers incur any costs?
Do the people here on VISAS get to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds or will they have to return to China once the crisis is over?
Champagne does say Canada “will continue to work closely with our international partners, including China, to combat (the new coronavirus’s) spread.”
The professionals at CFB Trenton have been doing their part.
The one thing you really notice here is how careful military personnel have been when it comes to protection. When buses go over to pick up recently processed evacuees, the bus driver and all support workers wear masks.
When you have 1,016 people killed by the virus which has infected almost 100,000 people around the globe, the careful measures are not only expected but warranted.
With just a handful of cases confirmed in Canada, it seems the approach is working.
So far the coronavirus has not been detected in the Trenton area. Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison noted that the new arrivals are not infected and are merely under quarantine as a safety precaution.
If there is a concern on the part of those living in Trenton, they are not showing it. In three trips there during the past week, I have not seen one person wearing a mask or expressing serious concerns.
But on the base, it’s a different matter.
They don’t look like they are doing too badly there. Quarantined Myriam Larouche told The Canadian Press that it’s better than being back at the epicentre of the health crisis.
“In China, I was trapped in my room in the dorms. I couldn’t go out,” Larouche said. “But here, I might have to stay in my room or inside of the hotel, but I don’t feel like I’m locked in. It kind of feels like summer camp.”
But one where you can’t see anybody’s face.