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

Fernie Mountain Film Festival coming to the big screen

Amateur and professional films about all things mountain related will screen at this year’s festival

District of Elkford approves bylaw authorizing $8.3 million loan

The money will be used for repaving roads in the Abruzzi Heights and Balmer Knoll subdivisions

Community gathers to grieve, learn at suicide information night

The Elk Valley Suicide Task Force hosted the first ever suicide information evening this week

Castle Project to expand Teck Coal operations

The Castle Project would be an expansion at Teck’s Fording River Operations

Community Cash Awards make their return to the Elk Valley

The program supports the development of healthy and diverse communities

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, calls for end to blockades

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

One dead in multi-vehicle collision involving logging truck on northern B.C. highway

DriveBC says highway expected to remain closed until 8 p.m.

B.C. teacher gets 15-year ban after lying about having sex with just-graduated student

Teacher had been dishonest with the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation

Pipeline talks got B.C. railway open, can work again: Horgan

Premier says protest excesses damage Wet’suwet’en case

Exclusive: Pamela Anderson talks plans for waterfront Ladysmith property after 12-day marriage

Anderson says she can pay her own bills. Peters denies making comments suggesting she can’t

Burger King breaks the mould with new advertising campaign

The company is known for irreverent ad campaigns

Most Read