A second Canadian plane has left the quarantined region of Hubei, China, bearing more Canadians who have asked to return from the centre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the federal government says.
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said there was room for about 200 passengers aboard the flight from Wuhan.
The plane is bringing back the last group of Canadians who want to be repatriated, said Champagne, who is travelling with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Africa and the Middle East.
There were 236 Canadians hoping to board the plane from a city that has been under quarantine for weeks as Chinese authorities try to contain the virus’s spread, Canadian officials had said Sunday.
The government plans to unite the latest batch of evacuees with the 213 Canadians and their families who left Wuhan last week, and who are already under a mandatory quarantine at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in southern Ontario.
But they might not be staying in the same modern accommodations as those who arrived last week, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, warned in a briefing Monday.
While most evacuees are in rooms in the Yukon Lodge, a motel on the base, some of the new arrivals will be put up in Hastings Hall, a historic building typically used as officers’ quarters that was built in 1934. Each room has its own sink but washrooms are shared and will need to be cleaned frequently to make sure quarantine protocols are followed, Tam said.
Public health officials and Canadian Forces personnel are working to make the rooms as comfortable as possible, including installing wireless internet access.
Canadian teacher Wayne Duplessis and his family boarded the plane in Wuhan. They had been planning to hunker down in the quarantined city until they realized they were running low on supplies.
“It was getting desperate,” Duplessis said from the airport while waiting for the flight.
While Duplessis and his 15-year-old son Wyatt are Canadian, his wife, Emily Tjandra, and their older son, Adryan Candra, 38, are Indonesian. The Canadian consulate was able to put a rush on Tjandra’s and Candra’s visas so they could stay together as a family.
The family is ecstatic to be coming back and to know that they are safe, Duplessis said.
He described Wuhan as “a city in pain.”
“It’s a city I love. I feel great sadness for them.”
Update on the second Canadian flight from #Wuhan:
The plane has departed with 185 passengers on board. It will stop to refuel in Vancouver and then continue onward to @CanadianForces Base #Trenton.
— François-Philippe Champagne (FPC) 🇨🇦 (@FP_Champagne) February 10, 2020
Those under quarantine are allowed outside for short times for recreation, but they are expected to stay two metres away from other evacuees, wear masks and wash their hands often to avoid the potential spread of the virus.
So far, none of the evacuees has shown any symptoms, Tam said.
She authorized the early release from quarantine of all Canadian Forces personnel involved in the initial flight from Wuhan, as well as a government official who was on board. She also released crew members who travelled with evacuees from Vancouver to CFB Trenton aboard a separate flight, after those evacuees left China on an American plane.
The crews and medical staff did not spend time in Wuhan, followed appropriate infection protocols, including the use of personal protective equipment, and did not have unprotected contact with the passengers who were flown to Canada, Tam said.
Champagne said the government is also monitoring the well-being of 285 Canadians quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in the Japanese port city of Yokohama, just outside Tokyo, where an eighth Canadian is among those who have recently tested positive for the virus.
The cruise line is following the Japanese health ministry’s “disembarkation protocols to provide medical care for these new cases,” the company said in a news release.
The latest Canadian patient will join seven others who were taken earlier to Japanese hospitals for treatment and monitoring.
Health officials have given another quarantined ship in Hong Kong the all-clear, allowing passengers and crew to disembark.
Seven cases of the virus have also been confirmed in Canada, four of them in British Columbia and three in Ontario. Most cases of the new coronavirus are mild, but the respiratory illness can be deadly for some people.
China reported a rise in new cases Monday, denting optimism that disease-control measures, including isolating major cities, might be working.
The death toll on the Chinese mainland rose by 97 to 908 in the 24 hours through midnight Sunday and 3,062 new cases were reported. That was up 15 per cent from Saturday and broke a string of daily declines.
The fatality toll from the new virus has passed the 774 people believed to have died in the 2002-03 epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome, another viral outbreak that originated in China. And the current total of 40,171 cases on the mainland vastly exceeds the 8,098 sickened by SARS.
More than 440 cases have been confirmed outside mainland China, including two deaths in Hong Kong and the Philippines.
—With files from Hina Alam and The Associated Press
Laura Osman, The Canadian Press
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