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

All Kootenay Boundary parks and outdoor facilities closed

RDKB reminds all residents the shutdown is for public safety and in response to COVID-19

Trail police investigating early morning brush fire

Call of trees on fire came into Kootenay Boundary fire department just before 1:30 a.m.

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Pandemic has Trail council re-considering budget, tax increase

Coronavirus changes forecast, city leaders deciding what changes to make in 2020

West Kootenay octogenarian helping develop low-cost ventilator for COVID-19 patients

Peter Brockley is working with his doctor son, Graham, to develop the unit that could save lives

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Most Read