British Columbia

Plane carrying Canadians from China's coronavirus outbreak zone arrives in Canada

A chartered aircraft that left Wuhan, China, carrying 176 Canadians away from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak is enroute to CFB Trenton in Ontario after a brief refuelling stop Thursday night at Vancouver International Airport.

Plane refuelled at Vancouver airport before it took off for Canadian Forces base in Trenton, Ont.

A plane carrying Canadians back from Wuhan, China, is pictured on the tarmac at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

UPDATE — Feb. 7, 2020: A chartered plane carrying 176 people who wanted to leave Wuhan, China, amid the outbreak of novel coronavirus has landed at CFB Trenton in Ontario. The passengers will spend 14 days in quarantine at the military base.


EARLIER:

A chartered aircraft that left Wuhan, China, carrying 176 Canadians away from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak is en route to CFB Trenton in Ontario after a refuelling stop at Vancouver International Airport Thursday night.

The evacuation flight organized by the federal government landed at around 9 p.m. PT. 

It's expected to arrive in Ontario early Friday morning. Passengers will then be under quarantine at the base for 14 days. 

There were 211 people on the initial manifest for Thursday's flight, which was delayed by one day due to bad weather in Vietnam, where the aircraft was pre-positioning to go on to Wuhan.

Of those, 194 had indicated they intended to be at the airport for the flight, including 34 minors and 13 permanent residents.

Petal Wang, a passenger on the plane who lives in Toronto, told CBC News the flight was uneventful.

She said passengers had their temperature taken before the plane took off at around 2 a.m. in Wuhan, and once again when they landed at YVR.

Upon landing, there was a crew changeover and passengers were told to expect to be on the ground for up to two hours for refuelling. 

Passengers, including families and young children, mostly slept through the flight, she said.

Wang said she was grateful to leave Wuhan.

"The virus itself is not that scary but because Wuhan has a healthcare system that's so overwhelmed, once you catch it there you won't be able to get help," she said.

"So people are trying everything they can to try to get out of there. And we're glad that we're able to leave."

Wang said there were some empty seats on the flight. 

A passenger wearing a mask looks out a window of a plane carrying Canadians back from Wuhan, China, as it sits on the tarmac at Vancouver International Airport Thursday night. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

In an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said it's possible that some of those 18 who didn't ultimately board may have been prevented from doing so because they were showing signs of illness.

"But it could also be that they changed their mind at the last minute," she told host Vassy Kapelos.

"It's a big decision for people. There might be situations where there is a family member left behind that's in hospital. There might be situations where someone is studying or working. I think we'll have better clarity as the days evolve."

Before boarding the aircraft, passengers had to undergo multiple screenings by Chinese and Canadian authorities. Anyone who showed symptoms of illness was not allowed to board.

About 50 Canadians who couldn't find seats on the charter flight will be allowed to board an American aircraft in Wuhan that is scheduled to leave soon after the Canadian charter departs, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said.

Canadian officials have documented five cases of coronavirus in the country so far and say the quarantine is necessary to ensure the virus doesn't spread further.

With files from Kathleen Harris and GP Mendoza

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