Another Canadian plane carrying evacuees from China lands in Ontario
TORONTO -- A second Canadian plane carrying 185 passengers from China’s Hubei province, which has been in lockdown during the novel coronavirus outbreak, has landed at Canada’s largest armed forces base in southern Ontario.
The plane touched down at Canadian Forces Base Trenton just after 6 a.m. local time on Tuesday morning. There were 130 Canadians and 58 accompanying family members aboard the flight.
While more than 230 people had requested a spot on the flight, the chartered plane is only able to transport 200, including the flight crew, and some expected passengers didn’t arrive at the airport.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said they don’t know why some people didn’t board the plane, but she said it’s possible they were barred from leaving because they were ill or they changed their minds about leaving China.
As for what will happen to those remaining Canadians, Hajdu said they’re monitoring the situation.
“We’ll be looking at ways that we can support people who want to come back from Canada, but at this point, we don’t have a clear plan in terms of the next steps in terms of a plane,” she told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday.
The first Canadian chartered plane carrying 176 evacuees from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the epidemic, landed at CFB Trenton on Friday morning. Hours later, a U.S. government-chartered flight carrying another 39 Canadians touched down at the base.
The passengers from the first two flights have already begun their 14-day quarantine at a hotel-like accommodation on the base where they are being monitored for any signs of infection.
The 185 evacuees on Tuesday’s flight will also undergo a 14-day quarantine at the base, but they will be housed in a separate building from the earlier arrivals.
When they landed Tuesday, the latest passengers were met by Canada Border Services Agency officers and “thoroughly assessed” by quarantine officials from Public Health Agency of Canada.
None have exhibited symptoms of the novel coronavirus, according to the government.
As of Tuesday morning, the coronavirus is blamed for the deaths of 1,016 people out of 42,638 confirmed cases in mainland China.
Hajdu said the Canadian government and their international partners are taking those numbers very seriously. She stressed, however, that Canadians should be most concerned about the number of confirmed cases in Canada: currently seven with no new cases.
“Those numbers can change as we know, but we are very grateful for the work that’s happening at the Canadian level, the collaboration amongst all the levels of government to ensure that we can detect and contain that spread, so the risk remains low for Canadians,” she said.
When asked why the government isn’t introducing mandatory quarantines for everyone returning to Canada from China, Hajdu said that isn’t the most effective way to detect new cases.
Instead, the health minister said the government’s current practice of screening people at the border, asking them to self-isolate at home if they’re coming from the affected region, and giving people information on the virus and who to contact if they develop symptoms, is more effective.
In a press release, the federal government advised Canadians in China outside of Hubei province, whose presence there is “non-essential,” to consider leaving by commercial means.
In addition to their response at home, the government has also provided approximately 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment, such as masks, face shields, clothing, goggles, and gloves to China since Feb. 4.
Canada has also committed to providing $2 million to the World Health Organization to help vulnerable countries prepare and respond to coronavirus events, the release stated Tuesday.