Culture

Canadian evacuation flight won't leave for Wuhan until Thurs. night

Canadian evacuation flight won't leave for Wuhan until Thurs. night”

China made an exception to allow permanent residents of Canada and Chinese citizens to leave if they're accompanying a child who is a Canadian citizen.

The Canadian Press has obtained a copy of a letter sent to Canadians and permanent residents now in the city that is the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The letter said a flight is to depart from the city's worldwide airport early Thursday morning.

A follow-up email says those shortlisted for the initial evacuation do not need to report to the airport until February 6, and that the flight would not be leaving the day initially expected "due to circumstances beyond the control of the Government of Canada".

Today (Sunday), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened the Incident Response Group to discuss the Government of Canada's response to the novel coronavirus, including next steps to assist Canadians who have requested help in departing from Wuhan, China, health measures, and travel advisories.

It's reported passengers will only be allowed one carry-on bag, and no luggage will be taken or processed.

"Due to demand and the restrictions associated with this flight, we can not guarantee that everyone who is eligible for a seat will be able to board the plane", the letter says.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said if a second plane is needed, the process likely will be much faster than it was for the first aircraft.

When asked whether the ongoing tensions between Ottawa and Beijing over the detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou played a role in the current situation, Trudeau said it did not.

Ministers and Government of Canada officials at all levels have been in close contact with our global partners including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the World Health Organization to share information on responses to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The letter also says that people should "expect delays" as the check-in experience for the flight will be "significantly different" from what they are used to.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has said the plane would wait in Vietnam for permission from Chinese authorities.

The plane will stop in Vancouver to refuel but passengers will stay on board.

The group discussed actions that will be taken once the Canadians on board arrive from China at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario.

Only people with a valid Canadian passport that has a valid Chinese visa are eligible to leave, but even then, it's not guaranteed, says the CBC article.

Richard Fabic, whose 15-month-old daughter, Chloe, is in Wuhan with her grandparents, said the plan by the government to keep families together is thoughtful.



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