The Canadian government is preparing to evacuate citizens out of China this week as a new form of coronavirus that has killed more than 400 people in one month continues to spread.
Global News has confirmed with several individuals on the ground in China that a notice was issued to Canadians who have asked to be part of the evacuation, advising them to prepare for departure from the city of Wuhan on Thursday, Feb. 6.
“You have been shortlisted for a Canadian assisted departure flight leaving from Wuhan, China to Canada,” the notice reads.
“This flight is expected to depart from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in the early morning of Thursday February 6th.”
A government official noted that while the departure is scheduled for that date, Ottawa is still waiting on final approvals from the Chinese government.
No one with symptoms of the coronavirus will be allowed to board the plane and once it arrives in Canada, all aboard including the aircraft and medical crew, will be quarantined for 14 days at CFB Trenton, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said this week.
Included in the notice sent out to Canadians in China are several warnings: the notice states that there may not be enough room for everyone to fly.
“Due to demand and the restrictions associated with this flight, we cannot guarantee that everyone who is eligible for a seat will be able to board the plane,” it reads. “You should make plans for the eventuality that you are not able to board the plane.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also addressed the issue of space in a scrum with reporters on Tuesday morning.
“Right now there is a larger number of Canadians asking for evacuation than there is space on the plane,” he said. “That’s why we have already got an option on a second plane.”
Only one carry-on will be allowed and no pets, the notice adds.
Canadians eligible for departure will need to be at the Wuhan airport shortly before midnight on Wednesday and will be responsible for getting themselves there.
Wuhan is considered the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak and is home to roughly 11 million people.
It and surrounding cities are in lockdown as Chinese officials grapple with the spread of the virus.
About 50 million people in total are in the quarantine zone.
Since the virus was first identified on Dec. 31, 2019, more than 20,000 people — mainly in China — have been sickened, and it has spread to more than 20 countries around the world.
Roughly 180 cases of the virus have been confirmed in those other countries.
Two deaths have occurred in Hong Kong and Indonesia.
Canada has seen four confirmed cases: three in Ontario and one in B.C.
There have been no domestic deaths.
More to come.
— With files from Global News’ Abigail Bimman