Plane evacuating Canadians out of Wuhan departs for Vancouver
VANCOUVER -- A plane chartered to evacuate more than 200 Canadians stranded in Wuhan, China has departed from that city.
After undergoing multiple screenings for symptoms of the new coronavirus, 211 passengers were expected to board the plane, but the federal government said only 194 showed up.
That, however, was expected. According to Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, some people "changed their minds at the last minute."
Chinese authorities are not allowing anyone who is already symptomatic to leave the country, so all the returning passengers had to appear healthy when they boarded.
The plane is scheduled to stop in Vancouver to refuel before continuing on to Ontario, where passengers will be placed in quarantine for two weeks at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton.
When the plane lands in Vancouver, however, passengers who started showing symptoms of coronavirus will disembark in B.C.
"We are making preparations to make sure we can support if anyone needs, or has medical issues, and they need to be evacuated from the plane while they're here, we have plans in place to be able to support that," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters Tuesday.
Vancouver International Airport said an arrival time hadn't been confirmed yet and that there were "no planned disembarkations."
The plane, which departed from Vietnam Thursday morning, was originally set to take off Wednesday but was delayed due to weather.
"There is a narrow window given by the Chinese for flights into Wuhan, and the weather conditions were such that the plane couldn't take off," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday.
About 50 Canadians will leave Wuhan on an American flight, while another chartered flight is expected to evacuate all Canadians still in Wuhan seeking to return home next week.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Sheila Scott and CTV News' Graham Slaughter