Second plane carrying Canadian evacuees from China arrives in Canada

By Kelsey Johnson and Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – A second plane, carrying 185 Canadian evacuees from the coronavirus-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan, has landed at an air-force base in Trenton, Ontario, the Canadian government said on Tuesday.

The outbreak, which originated in Wuhan in Hubei province and has killed more than 1,000 people mostly in China, has spread to at least 27 countries, including Canada where seven confirmed cases have been reported.

Although consular officials were in contact with Canadians in China who have requested assistance, this is the last planned flight from Wuhan, the government said in a statement.

Last week, 176 Canadian citizens and permanent residents were evacuated from Wuhan to an Ontario air-force base on a flight chartered by the Canadian government, while another 39 Canadian evacuees were flown out of China on an American flight.

Evacuees flown to the base are required to be quarantined for 14 days. The Canadian government has also told citizens not to travel to Hubei and to avoid all non-essential travel to China.

Canada has deployed 16 tonnes of protective equipment, including masks, goggles and gloves, to China since Feb. 4, and will provide C$2 million ($1.5 million) to the World Health Organization to help fight the outbreak, the statement added.

In Wuhan, sadness over a potential separation turned to joy for Edward Yuan, 28, a Canadian citizen from Vancouver, and his wife, Eve Xiao, 27, a permanent resident.

Although they were initially told that Xiao would not be allowed to board the second flight back to Canada, the Canadian authorities later said she would be permitted on the plane.

“I was at first depressed and my wife was crying when we were told she can’t leave,” Yuan told Reuters before the flight took off. “But a few hours later, the tears turned into surprise, happiness and doubt.”

They were finally relieved only once they had stepped on to the plane together, Yuan said.

Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Theresa Tam said on Monday eight members of the Canadian Armed Forces who accompanied the first flight to and from Wuhan had been released from quarantine, as had five additional members of the flight crew.

“It is understandable that many in the public are worried about the virus; however, the misinformation and rumours that continue to spread only undermine our response to the outbreak,” Tam said.

(Reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa and Moira Warburton in Toronto; Additional reporting by Caroline Pailliez in Paris and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Bernadette Baum)