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Coronavirus: 325 Canadians have requested to leave epicentre of the outbreak

Novel coronavirus outbreak: Lingering uncertainty for Canadians in China
WATCH ABOVE: Novel coronavirus outbreak: Lingering uncertainty for Canadians in China

The number of Canadians who have asked for assistance in leaving Hubei — the province in China where a new virus has infected thousands — has now risen to 325, according to Global Affairs Canada.

As of Sunday, Global Affairs says 543 Canadians in China have now registered with consular officials, a figure that includes those looking to leave the country.

The number is up from Friday, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the federal government was intending to transport almost 200 Canadians from the epicentre of China’s coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE: Canadians evacuated from China will be sent to CAF base in Trenton, Ont.

“It is a deliberate process in which we are engaged responsibly,” Trudeau said, adding that evacuation efforts were being coordinated with other countries.

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In an email obtained by Global News, Global Affairs officials told Canadians in Wuhan there would be limited space on the flight. They said officials would try to give 24 hours’ notice before the aircraft is due to depart, however.

Novel coronavirus outbreak: Travel restrictions rise with death outside China
Novel coronavirus outbreak: Travel restrictions rise with death outside China

“In the event that there are more passengers than available seats, we will continue to explore all avenues to assist Canadians in departing from Wuhan, China,” the message stated.

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The trip is open to Canadian citizens only, and no one presenting with symptoms will be allowed to board the aircraft.

Another statement Sunday from Global Affairs said that evacuated Canadians will be have to undergo a 14-day period of observation at a Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ont., once they arrive.

Novel coronavirus outbreak: Fear and racism impact Canadian businesses
Novel coronavirus outbreak: Fear and racism impact Canadian businesses

“The Government of Canada takes the health and safety of Canadians, both at home and abroad, very seriously,” said foreign affairs minister François-Phillippe Champagne in the statement.

“We are taking action to return Canadians home from Wuhan, China, while ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to prevent and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.”

READ MORE: China finishes new hospital for coronavirus victims as its death toll hits 361

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The statement also said that Canada has chartered a plane that is standing by but is intended to land in Hanoi, Vietnam, and deploy later to Wuhan when it has been given authorization to land.

‘I’m willing to be held in quarantine’

Canadian Megan Millward, who was visiting her in-laws at a small village in Hubei with her husband and two children, said that she was worried by a shortage of medical help in the province as well her family potentially splitting up.

“There are no flush toilets, and we obviously knew that ahead of time because we come here every year,” Millward told Global News on Saturday — a day before Global Affairs released an update on their efforts to evacuate Canadians from Wuhan.

READ MORE: Here’s a timeline of the 4 confirmed coronavirus cases in Canada

“But with a very sensitive health situation, the longer we stay here without running water and proper hygiene, the more worried we become that something, anything, no matter what it is, there won’t be enough medical care available to us in this location.”

Millward’s husband, Lie Zhang, is a permanent resident and therefore would be barred by China from leaving Hubei with the rest of his family. Canadian officials said they would be trying to keep families together as well as raising the issue with the Chinese government.

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Millward told Global News she wanted to reassure Canadians that she was willing to take whatever steps are necessary.

China working to contain coronavirus outbreak after first death reported outside the country
China working to contain coronavirus outbreak after first death reported outside the country

“I’m willing to be held in quarantine for 14 days and to undergo any tests,” she said. “We’re not trying to pose a health risk. We’re trying to avoid one.”

As of Sunday, the death toll from the virus in China has increased to 361, according to the country’s national health commission. The number of confirmed cases also increased to a total of 17,205.

The Philippines also reported its first coronavirus-related death Sunday morning there. According to its Department of Health, a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan was admitted after experiencing symptoms related to the disease. It is the first death to be reported outside of China.

READ MORE: Canada is offering medical assistance to China as it combats coronavirus spread: MP

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The World Health Organization also warned that countries need to be prepared should the virus spread among their populations.

— With files from the Abigail Bimman, Global News, The Canadian Press and the Associated Press