The federal government says a flight carrying Canadians and permanent residents departed Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, Thursday afternoon.
Speaking in Ottawa, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the government expected 194 passengers to board the flight. The flight manifest originally had 211 people on it, but Mr. Champagne said some chose to stay behind. The Canadian charter plane had a narrow time window to screen and board passengers before it has to depart Thursday night (EST).
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Health Minister Patty Hajdu said evacuees were screened before they boarded the flight and will be monitored for symptoms while they are on the plane. Anyone who develops symptoms during the journey back to Canada will be isolated on the plane, she said.
The flight will land in Vancouver for refueling before heading to the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ont., where it is expected early Friday morning. Passengers will be placed under quarantine for 14 days at the Yukon Lodge, where they will be confined to their rooms and monitored. Families will room together.
“Meals will be delivered to people in their rooms and that’s why we’ll have a lot of support staff there both from a mental health perspective but also to ensure that needs are getting met,” Mr. Hajdu said. “This is part of the stress of being in a quarantine situation. Individuals will have to find ways to occupy ourselves themselves with very little movement on the base.”
Another 50 Canadians will board a U.S. flight in Wuhan Thursday night, which is scheduled to take off shortly after the Canadian flight leaves. The American flight will stop in Vancouver and Canada-bound passengers will board a second flight to Trenton, where they are expected to land early Friday.
Mr. Champagne said that once the Canadian and American flights depart, about two-thirds of the 347 people who asked for help to leave Hubei province will have been evacuated.
A second Canadian charter flight is scheduled to leave Wuhan on Feb. 10, evacuating the remaining Canadians who wish to leave Hubei province. It will land in Canada Feb. 11.
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