Medical workers in protective suits move a coronavirus patient into an isolation ward at the Second People’s Hospital in Fuyang in central China’s Anhui Province, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. Beijing criticized Washington’s tightening of travel controls to bar most foreign nationals who visited the country within the past two weeks. (Chinatopix via AP)

More Canadians request flight out of Wuhan as coronavirus kills outside China

More than 300 Canadians now want a flight out of China

The number of Canadians who want to flee the Chinese province afflicted with the novel coronavirus has climbed to 325.

Global Affairs Canada provided the updated figure on Sunday, as the world saw its first case of a person dying from the new coronavirus outside of China — a 44-year-old man in the Philippines.

“This has been a rapidly evolving situation and the number of Canadians asking for assistance is quickly changing,” said a statement from the department.

Canada is seeking Chinese approval to send a plane to the locked-down city of Wuhan to collect the rising number of Canadians who have asked for help to leave, but there was no indication Sunday from Global Affairs about the status of that flight.

The department was, however, telling people not to go to the airport unannounced because they will not be permitted to board the aircraft. Instead, they were told to contact its Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa to make arrangements.

“Canada is chartering a plane to take Canadians from Wuhan, China back to Canada. We have 325 requests for departure assistance from Hubei Province and we will be reaching out to provide updates and to confirm their needs in order to assist our logistical planning,” the department said in a statement.

“Spaces will be limited and not guaranteed, and will likely only be confirmed with very little notice.”

READ MORE: New coronavirus has infected more than 14,550 globally

Canada is consulting with the United States and Britain “to ensure co-operation and sharing of best practices in this operation,” the statement said.

The death toll in China from the virus, declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization, has reached 304, and the number of people infected worldwide has surpassed 14,550.

Canada has four known cases — three in Ontario and one in British Columbia.

On Sunday, a second French-chartered plane carrying 300 evacuees from China landed at the military base of Istres in the southern French region of Bouches-du-Rhone. That followed the first French plane that landed on Friday.

The federal government hasn’t said whether Canadians who eventually arrive from China will be quarantined.

Nearly 200 Americans have already been evacuated from Wuhan, and U.S. health officials ordered that they be quarantined for two weeks. It was the first time a federal quarantine has been ordered in that country since the 1960s, when one was enacted over concern about potential spread of smallpox, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

South Korea, too, quarantined its evacuees, who arrived in Seoul on Friday. They underwent screenings for fever before boarding buses to quarantine facilities established in the central towns of Asan and Jincheon. Residents there have protested plans to place the evacuees in their neighbourhoods, throwing eggs and other objects at visiting government officials.

The Australian government was forced to defend its plan, which involved sending evacuees to Christmas Island, which has been used to banish asylum seekers and convicted criminals. Critics warned that some Australians would prefer to stay in China rather than go there.

READ MORE: Philippines reports 1st coronavirus death outside of China

In spite of the widespread fear of the virus, health officials in Canada have said chances of contracting it in this country are exceptionally low. They said people should take normal cold- and flu-season precautions of frequent hand-washing and covering coughs and sneezes.

This past week, Health Minister Patty Hajdu was pressed by reporters on Parliament Hill on whether Canadians returning from China would be quarantined. She replied:

“We will always work to ensure the health of Canadians, whether they’re abroad or whether they’re here,” she said on Wednesday.

“So, yes what we’re looking at is a scenario where we have all the measures in place to protect Canadians from exposure to the virus. Having said that, that’s about as far as I can go.”

— with files from the Associated Press

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Grant applications approved for Crofton to Maple Bay Trail and Fuller Lake Arena roof replacement

North Cowichan also planning to look into illegal secondary suites

North Cowichan launches survey on the future of community engagement

Clarifying how community input can influence the municipal decision-making process one of the goals

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Lairds mark landmark 65th anniversary this summer

Love story endures the test of time and not defeated by COVID pandemic

Many reasons motorists need to slow down

Construction, back to school, people walking dogs, riding bikes all factors

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Most Read