February 7, 2020 / 6:39 AM / 18 days ago

First Canadian coronavirus evacuees land in Ontario; show no signs of illness

TRENTON, Ontario (Reuters) - A plane carrying an initial 176 Canadian evacuees from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China landed at an air force base in Ontario early on Friday and Canada’s health minister said none showed any symptoms of the illness.

An Airbus A330-300 plane en route to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, carrying Canadians evacuated from China due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, arrives to refuel at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier

Another 39 Canadians in Wuhan who were on board an American State Department-chartered evacuation flight landed in Vancouver and boarded a chartered flight to the air base in Trenton, a Canadian government official said.

“Fortunately no one showed symptoms on the plane, so no one had to disembark at the fueling station in Vancouver,” Canadian Minister of Health Patty Hajdu told CBC Radio.

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

One evacuee, 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 and nervous about the lack of hospital beds in Wuhan. The outbreak has killed more than 600.

“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 some permanent residents would be allowed on board to accompany minors.

A second Canadian flight is scheduled to leave Wuhan on Feb. 10, 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, Allison Martell and Moira Warburton in Toronto and additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Steve Orlofsky and Dan Grebler

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