The medical intelligence (MEDINT) cell of the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command (CFINTCOM) is a small unit that is usually often overlooked by other intelligence and security establishments in the country. It seems that this has backfired on Canada as MEDINT was one of the first to warn about the potential threat of the CCP coronavirus before the Canadian government acknowledged the infection as a national threat.
MEDINT is tasked with analyzing global health trends and contagion outbreaks to determine how they will affect the operations of the Canadian military. Its assessments are influenced greatly by reports from other allied intelligence agencies, like the United States military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI). MEDINT tracked the COVID-19 outbreak in its early days and made reports on how the pandemic might affect military missions. “We can confirm that CFINTCOM started to report on COVID-19 starting January 2020,” Lt. Hrayr Karageozia, a spokesperson for the military intelligence branch, said to CBC.
The fact that MEDINT used assessments from NCMI is interesting since recent reports suggest that the U.S. agency had raised a red flag on the CCP virus as early as in November. President Trump had apparently received a package containing the report by early January. They predicted that the coronavirus would prove to be a threat to U.S. forces stationed in Asia. It also noted that Chinese leadership was already aware that the outbreak was out of control. Since Beijing did not want foreign governments and health organizations to know about it, they decided to withhold crucial information.
Meanwhile, the Canadian economy is under duress due to the COVID-19 outbreak. More than a million Canadians lost their jobs in March according to government data, which is the largest job loss seen by the country in a single month since 1976. Unemployment levels were at 7.8 percent, up from 5.6 percent in February. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that citizens should be prepared to survive a “hard day for the country.” “As stark at those numbers are they aren’t a surprise… We all knew this was going to be a tough time,” he said, as reported by the BBC.
To avoid any mass layoffs, Canadian lawmakers have passed legislation that will subsidize up to 75 percent of employee salaries. The wage subsidy scheme, which will cost over US$50 billion, will be applied retroactively from March 15.
Spartan Bioscience from Canada has been granted approval for its device, which is said to produce COVID-19 test results in about an hour. At present, swabs are taken at various centers and the samples are sent to labs in large cities where testing is done. This causes delays in test results and backlogs for labs. CEO Paul Lem believes that the new device will solve the problem.
“You take a swab and you actually take the tip of the swab into this cartridge and then you put into this portable DNA analyzer… In less than an hour, you get your COVID-19 test results,” Lem said to CTV News. Spartan Bioscience calculates that it can produce up to 1.5 million tests per month, which can be increased depending on demand. The company is already known for its Spartan Cube, which is being used for testing STDs and other infections. Canada has recorded over 24,000 cases of CCP coronavirus infections and more than 7,100 deaths.