February 7, 2020 / 6:04 AM / 2 months ago

Coronavirus evacuees set to arrive at Canadian base

TRENTON, Ontario, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Two groups of evacuees are set to arrive on Friday at a Canadian air force base from Wuhan, China, the center of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 600.

One flight of 176 people is expected in the early hours of Friday morning, Canada’s foreign minister told reporters on Thursday. A second group of evacuees, who left China on a U.S. flight, should arrive later in the day, after switching planes in Vancouver.

All the evacuees will be quarantined on the base, in Trenton, Ontario, for two weeks, separated from each other in a building that resembles a small hotel, with families kept together.

Edward Wang was promised a seat on the U.S. plane along with his mother, also a Canadian citizen. He is eager to be back in Canada, nervous about the lack of hospital beds in Wuhan.

“You imagine things like this happening in war zones,” he said, speaking before the flights left. “It feels so surreal.”

While most of the passengers are Canadian citizens because of rules set by the Chinese government, Canadian authorities said that some permanent residents would be allowed on board to accompany minors.

A second Canadian flight is scheduled to leave Wuhan on Feb. 10, Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Thursday.

Canada was hit hard by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus, and health authorities are working to contain the new virus. As of Thursday afternoon, five cases had been confirmed in Canada.

The country has told citizens not to travel to Hubei province, and to avoid non-essential travel to the rest of China.

Reporting by Caroline Pailliez in Paris and Allison Martell in Toronto; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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