Richard Fabic, his wife Yunfei Li and their daughter Chloe are seen in this undated handout photo. An Ontario father says he missed his 15-month-old daughter’s first steps because she is stuck in the Chinese city at the centre of a new coronavirus outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Richard Fabic *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Non-citizen parents allowed to return home with Canadian children from Wuhan

More than 300 people are asking Canada to fly them home from Wuhan

The Liberal government insisted China let the primary caregivers of Canadian children return to the country with their primary caregivers after leaving Wuhan, the epicentre of an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, even if they are not citizens themselves.

“We insisted on the concept of family unity,” Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Monday in Ottawa.

A chartered plane will soon be in Hanoi, Vietnam, where it will wait to pick up Canadian citizens — and some permanent residents accompanying their children — from Wuhan, the city of 11 million people in the central Hubei province that is currently under quarantine in response to the outbreak.

The federal government is awaiting final approval from the Chinese government to fly through the restricted airspace and land at the closed airport in Wuhan, but Champagne said other preparations are already well underway.

“We will be in touch with Canadians in Wuhan later this afternoon to provide them all the necessary details,” Champagne said.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said 304 Canadians have asked for assistance to return home but only 280 have Canadian passports.

The numbers remain fluid and Canada has secured a second flight, as well as seats on other flights, should they be needed.

China is allowing only foreign nationals from all countries to board repatriation flights, but Champagne said Canada insisted that children be able to fly with their primary caregivers, even if they are permanent residents, and China agreed to let this happen.

That will not apply to families where no minors are involved.

Hajdu says China will not allow anyone who is showing symptoms of coronavirus to board a flight to leave the country, even if they are Canadian citizens, as part of that country’s efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

“I don’t anticipate we will be able to get the Chinese to concede on that point,” Hajdu said.

READ MORE: WHO working with Google to combat coronavirus misinformation

Those who remain will be offered consular services from the rapid deployment team already on the ground in Wuhan.

Passengers will be screened twice — once by Chinese authorities and then again before they board — and will be monitored during the flight for possible symptoms of the virus.

If any fall ill, they will be transported to a health facility in British Columbia while the plane refuels. Otherwise, passengers will not be allowed to leave the plane until they arrive at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, where they will be held in isolation for 14 days.

The Ontario base was chosen because it has the space to allow large numbers of people to be processed quickly, and a facility where people can be housed with dignity, said Hajdu.

“I want to remind people that these are Canadians who have been through a very traumatic experience over the past couple of months and in many cases will have significant stressors,” Hajdu said.

The repatriated Canadians will be housed at the nearby Yukon Lodge until they are cleared to return home.

“Part of the reason we’re offering social support is they will also be isolated from one another,” Hajdu said. “So if one person falls ill, that won’t necessitate the start of an entire other quarantine for all of the passengers.”

READ MORE: B.C. coronavirus testing continues, still only one confirmed case

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford looks to hold in-person public hearings, with audience size limited

Restricting attendance in 350-seat hall will allow two-metre distance to be maintained, mayor says

Central Abbotsford apartment to proceed to a public hearing – eventually

Six-storey apartment building would have extensive rooftop recreation area

Total Makeover Challenge moves to voting for Top 5 finalists

Online voting for Abbotsford challengers runs April 9 to 14

VIDEO: Abbotsford’s Sandy Hill Elementary hosts car parade for students

Local school lets students know how much they miss them as COVID-19 delays classes

Character Abbotsford Conference postponed until 2021

Fourth conference was originally planned to occur later this year

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Revenue dip needed to qualify for wage subsidy drops to 15% in March: Trudeau

Wage subsidy would over 75% of each employee’s salary for qualifying businesses

B.C. closes all provincial parks for COVID-19 protection

Easter weekend approaches, camping already closed

Air Canada says it will apply for wage subsidy to rehire workers after cutting 16,500 jobs

Air Canada said March revenues fell by more than 30 per cent year over year

Canadians urged to include pets in their COVID-19 emergency plans

That includes plans about who will care for them if the owner is hospitalized

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19 world update: Joy in Wuhan as lockdown lifted; Pope denounces profiteers

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news items from around the world

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

Most Read