Canada will evacuate citizens from Wuhan this week and here's what you need to know
Hundreds of Canadians currently trapped in the city of Wuhan — where the coronavirus outbreak originated — have asked the Canadian government to help bring them home. Now Canada is preparing to send not one but two planes to China to begin evacuating all 304 people.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne tweeted this morning that the first plane the government charted to assist those in Wuhan is currently on its way to Hanoi, Vietnam.
The plane we have chartered to assist those Canadians in #Wuhan and #HubeiProvince who wish to leave is currently on its way to #Hanoi in Vietnam where it will be prepositioned for departure to China when final approvals are granted. pic.twitter.com/EehBS2LYeH— François-Philippe Champagne (FPC) 🇨🇦 (@FP_Champagne) February 4, 2020
Canadian officials are still waiting for the final approval to enter the airspace from Chinese authorities, at which point the evacuation process will begin.
In a copy of a letter sent by the government to Canadians and permanent residents of Canada currently in Wuhan, which was obtained by the Canadian Press, officials said a flight will depart from the city’s international airport early Thursday morning.
The letter also told Canadians and permanent residents to arrive at the airport Wednesday evening and to prepare for extensive health screening, immigration controls and delays.
It said they could not guarantee that everyone who is eligible would necessarily get a seat on the plane "due to demand and the restrictions associated with this flight," though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday morning that the Canadian government is preparing to send a second plane to help evacuate citizens stranded in China.
According to the Globe and Mail, government officials said the second plane may not be needed but it has been secured either way.
At this point, officials are unsure of how many Canadian citizens and permanent residents will actually show up at the Wuhan airport to be transported home.
"Right now, there is a larger number of Canadians asking for evacuation than there is space on the plane," Trudeau said Tuesday. "We'll make a decision based on how full the plane is when we come back, whether or not we exercise the option of the second plane."
Once Canadians have been evacuated from China, the federal government has said they'll be placed under observation for a two-week period at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ont., about 170 km east of Toronto.
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