Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

The federal government is working hard to get a Canadian field hockey team stranded in South Africa home. The situation has arisen as a result of the Omicron variant.

Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge called the team on Saturday to assure that no stones will be turned, says Jenn Beagan, coach of Field Hockey Canada’s junior women’s national team.

“She also followed up with our team leader – in a 20-minute conversation – just to let us know that the highest levels of government are aware that we are here and working to get us home,” Beagan told Global News in an interview from the northwestern city of Potchefstroom.

“Right now, we’re just in a team pattern.”


Click to play video: 'COVID-19: South Africa demands calm over international response to Omicron variant'







COVID-19: South Africa calls for calm over international response to the Omicron variant


COVID-19: South Africa calls for calm over international response to the Omicron variant

Read more:

1. Omicron cases in Canada landed at Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport

The story continues below the ad

The junior women’s national team landed in South Africa on 23 November to train – ahead of the league’s world championships on 5 December in Potchefstroom.

Within hours, Beagan said, emails and messages began pinging her inbox, warning of an infectious new COVID-19 variant in South Africa called Omicron.

“Then we went to training with the girls, and within a few hours we were told that the boundaries were closing down and that things were actually going pretty fast,” Beagan said.


Click to play video: 'South African president says COVID-19 positivity has risen from 2% to 9% in less than a week'







South African president says COVID-19 positivity has risen from 2% to 9% in less than a week


South African president says COVID-19 positivity has risen from 2% to 9% in less than a week

The new variant was dubbed a variant of concern by the World Health Organization on 26 November.

On the same day, several countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, India and Japan, adopted travel bans from several South African nations where the mutation was discovered.

The story continues below the ad

The Women’s Junior World Cup was canceled. The team has been stuck in Potchefstroom ever since.

Read more:

The Omicron COVID-19 variant poses a ‘very high’ global risk, warns WHO

Global News has contacted Global Affairs Canada and the Minister of Sports for comment and will provide an update when a response is received.

On Twitter, said Field Hockey Canada “[we’re] working to get all our athletes and coaches home safely. ”

“Parents are aware of the situation and everyone is working together to bring our team home.”

The story continues below the ad

Beagan said the BC-based team’s 20 members and five employees have trained daily and kept busy while waiting for news from Ottawa.

“We have been asked to stay for 48 hours while some of the other governments – the EU, the UK – make decisions on whether to accept planes landing from South Africa,” she explained.

“Canada is so far away that we have to land in another country halfway. There are no direct flights. “

A charter flight is possible, she added, but all commercial flight options must be exhausted first.


Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Biden says vaccination is important to end pandemic in mid-Omicron variant'







COVID-19: Biden says vaccine equity is important to end pandemic in mid-Omicron variant


COVID-19: Biden says vaccine equity is important to end pandemic in mid-Omicron variant

The team is relatively isolated in Potchefstroom, as junior teams from other countries had not arrived for training, Beagan said.

Alcohol is generally good, she added, but the cancellation of the World Cup has been “devastating.”

The story continues below the ad

The team raised more than $ 160,000 to fund its participation – after becoming the first Canadian team to win gold at the Junior Pan American Games in Chile in August.

“It’s not just the cancellation of the World Cup, but all the emotions surrounding all the hard work it took to get us here,” she said.

Read more:

Ontario investigates 4 possible COVID-19 Omicron cases: Chief Medical Officer of Health

Canada has now confirmed several of its own cases of the Omicron variant. When the hockey team returns, members will be asked to take a COVID-19 test and quarantine at a designated hotel until they get a negative result.

Under the new travel restrictions, foreign nationals who have traveled through southern Africa within the past 14 days are banned from entering the country.

The Canadian ban affects South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.

-with files from Aaron D’Andrea

See link »


© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *