Hundreds of evacuees begin boarding Canada-bound flight in Wuhan

Friday, 07 Feb, 2020

Wuhan has been under police and paramilitary-enforced lockdown since January 23, when officials cordoned it off along with the surrounding province to stem the tide of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak.

Why is Canada taking longer than other countries to retrieve its citizens?

Fabic said he has been in touch with Canadian authorities about bringing Chloe back.

"It is expected that B.C. will be the final destination for some of the returning Canadians, and we will continue liaising with the federal government as it identifies passengers for the repatriation flight", they said in a joint statement.

The problem, according to officials, was a lack of information in the early days of the quarantine, which was exacerbated by the fact that Canada does not have a consulate in the area.

The military medics will observe the passengers throughout the flight and those who will begin displaying symptoms will be isolated, Hajdu said.

Canadians travelling to the airport will have to go through checkpoints to get to the airport in the city where people have been confined inside for weeks.

The federal government has also chartered another flight next week.

As the first flight of Canadians gets set to leave the quarantine zone of China, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne is encouraging other Canadians to consider leaving the country on commercial flights.

Police told him plans had changed; the flight was now due to leave late on Thursday.

Planes carrying Americans have arrived in the United States from China over the past week, including this one, which landed in California. They're in four of China's five biggest cities, plus one in Hong Kong.

Those who are allowed on will be screened multiple times before boarding, during the flight and after they arrive at the Canadian Forces Base, reads a news release from Global Affairs Canada.

"I think it's a good thing because everybody who wants to depart will have a third chance to come back to Canada", Champagne said at a press conference Thursday in Ottawa.

Federal cabinet ministers issued the call for all Canadians on non-essential business to leave China on Wednesday as the government's first attempt at evacuating about 200 people from the Chinese city of Wuhan hit a snag due to bad weather.

"We are considering a range of options including a second plane". But Champagne hasn't committed to actually sending that second flight.

Personnel at the base undertook a "dry run" Monday to make sure they're prepared for the Canadians' arrival from China, Hajdu said.

There are also a few dozen seats for Canadians on a US plane set to leave Wuhan a few hours after the initial flight chartered by the Canadian government.

Why are evacuation flights only happening at night?

Health Minister Patty Hajdu explains the government's rationale for asking non-essential Canadians to leave China. When the plane missed its narrow window to fly into Wuhan, it had to be rescheduled for the following night.