28 Canadian service members stationed in long-term care homes have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, the country's armed forces revealed in a statement on Thursday.
16 of those identified were stationed at care facilities in Quebec and the remaining 12 in Ontario, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) confirmed.
Military officials previously committed to updates on new cases on a two-week basis. The CAF now says that it will announce daily updates, indicating that the force is concerned about the increasing rate of infection as service members remain stationed at care homes.
All service members deployed in those care homes have been provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and are able to use it, the military said.
Military personnel "undergo a familiarization and orientation periods" to ensure their work will be "properly structured and effective once they commence duties", the statement added.
"Personnel also receive mental health and resilience training to prepare them for the current reality in LTCFs", the statement said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that the military is considering introducing hazard pay for troops currently serving at care homes, similar to the compensation given to those in perilous missions.
The announcement signals a significant jump from the previous week, where just five had been identified to have been struck by the illness.
Trudeau last Friday claimed that the military knew about the dangers prior to sending its personnel to assist care homes.
“There are always risks in what they do and they go into that knowingly and willingly and that is why we offer them our deepest gratitude every day", he said.
“At the same time, we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to protect them, so we will look at the protocols in place and see if and how they can be strengthened, as well as ensuring that cases of COVID-19 don’t spread through the Canadian Armed Forces and others who are serving their country".
Almost 1,700 CAF servicemen and women are aiding 30 long-term care homes where staff have been swamped during the coronavirus pandemic.
Their role provides medical support but also assists with regular duties such as assisting residents, cleaning, and serving food.