The federal government has a plane waiting to take hundreds of Canadians from Wuhan to the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton where they will be quarantined

OTTAWA – Any Canadian showing signs of illness will not be allowed on an evacuation plane being sent to the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
And Canadian forces personnel will be on board the flight from Wuhan, China, to monitor people for suspicious symptoms, Cabinet ministers revealed Monday.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Chinese authorities have been very clear that no one with any symptoms will be able to fly.
“That is not going to be a flexible point for discussion. The reality is we are working within their jurisdiction.”
The government has a plane waiting to take hundreds of Canadians from Wuhan to the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton where they will be quarantined.
Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the government has a plane ready in Hanoi, Vietnam, but is waiting for clearance from Chinese authorities to take off.
“We have been working around the clock with our officials to assist those Canadians looking to leave the region of China currently under quarantine.”
Champagne said there are 280 Canadian passport holders who have asked for assistance, but the numbers are fluctuating and they have a second plane ready to go if the first flight is insufficient.
“The numbers are fluctuating by the day, in fact I would say the numbers are fluctuating by the hour.”
He said they have also talked with allies about potentially putting Canadians on their flights if they run a few seats short. Champagne said if there are more people than the plane can hold they will prioritize the most vulnerable people on the first flight.
Champagne rejected the idea Canada’s frayed diplomatic relationship with Beijing could be slowing the airlift operation. He said China’s foreign minister quickly got in touch when Canada asked to pull out the Canadians.
“We got a call within hours to go through all the steps that we need.”
Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne speak about the coronavirus on Jan. 29, 2020 in Ottawa.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press/File
The plan is for the plane to leave China, head first to Vancouver for refuelling and then to Trenton, where passengers will be kept on the base for 14 days. They will be kept in isolation from both the public and each other to prevent any illness from spreading.
Passengers who are showing symptoms will not be able to leave China and there will be medical screenings by both Chinese authorities and Canadian Forces personnel who will be on board the flight.
The government also plans more screenings for passengers once the plane is in the air and anyone who develops symptoms in flight will be transferred to hospital.
Since the outbreak, travellers arriving from other parts of China have been told to screen themselves and stay in isolation if they feel ill. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said they are taking a more cautious approach with these passengers because they have been in Wuhan.
“It is a precautionary measure, because the passengers come from an area with the most intense transmission of the virus in China,” she said.
The government’s plan is to house people at Yukon Lodge, a hotel facility at the Trenton base, which has 290 rooms.
Hajdu said they want to make people as comfortable as possible and will also have mental health support on hand.
“These are Canadians who have been through a very dramatic experience over the past couple months and in many cases will have significant stressors.”
Life has become exceedingly difficult in a city that is under such extreme quarantine
She said the government has no report that any of the Canadians on the ground are sick, but said the city is a difficult place to live in right now.
“Life has become exceedingly difficult in a city that is under such extreme quarantine, supplies are running low, schools are shut,” she said. “They have asked the government for assistance and that is what we do when Canadians are in trouble.”
There has been an open question since plans for the flight were announced about whether Canadian permanent residents would also be allowed to leave. In some cases, permanent residents were facing the prospect of not being able to travel with children who were Canadian citizens.
Champagne said details are still being worked out, but the Chinese government said it will ensure families are not broken up in this process. He said Canadians will not be charged anything for the flight or stay in Trenton. They will be offered transport to Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal when the quarantine ends, assuming they’re healthy.
He said they would be contacting Canadians late Monday, which is early on Tuesday in Wuhan to offer more information. He said the plane is an important step, but they also have to work with authorities on how to get the Canadians across the quarantined city.
“Wuhan is a city of 11 million people. There are more people there than in New York or London.”
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