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Two-thirds of Canadians in Wuhan en route home, 2nd plane coming for others: Champagne

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Champagne says Canadians being screened, boarding plane for departure from Wuhan' Coronavirus outbreak: Champagne says Canadians being screened, boarding plane for departure from Wuhan
WATCH: Champagne says Canadians being screened, boarding plane for departure from Wuhan – Feb 6, 2020

Two-thirds of the Canadians seeking evacuation from Wuhan as officials grapple with the spread of a new coronavirus are on their way back to Canada.

The flight chartered by the Canadian government has now taken off and is beginning its journey to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, where the 176 evacuees will be housed for the next two weeks in quarantine. Roughly 50 others departed on American evacuation flight.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne told reporters in a press conference on Thursday that the rest are scheduled to be brought home next week on a second chartered Canadian flight.

READ MORE: 2 Canadians test positive for coronavirus on cruise ship quarantined in Japan

Champagne said the second flight is scheduled to leave Wuhan on Feb. 10 and get to the military base on Feb. 11.

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Health Minister Patty Hajdu was also at the press conference and repeated the call given yesterday by Champagne for Canadians who do not absolutely need to be in China to get out now while they can.

Click to play video: 'CFB Trenton officials say all efforts are being made to ensure ‘care, dignity, and respect’ of Canadians returning from China' CFB Trenton officials say all efforts are being made to ensure ‘care, dignity, and respect’ of Canadians returning from China
CFB Trenton officials say all efforts are being made to ensure ‘care, dignity, and respect’ of Canadians returning from China – Feb 6, 2020

“Transportation may get more difficult between the two countries as the situation evolves,” she said, adding that the government does not know how long the quarantines put in place on 50 million people in Wuhan and several surrounding cities in Hubei province will last.

Air Canada and British Airways are among a slew of airlines freezing flights to China as officials grapple with the new coronavirus.

READ MORE: More airlines follow suit as Air Canada suspends flights to China over coronavirus

Hajdu stressed the need for anyone who has managed to travel from Hubei province to Canada within the last 14 days to self-isolate.

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“It is a critical time in the global efforts to contain and limit the outbreak,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Hajdu outlines how officials will ensure safe repatriation of Canadians from Wuhan' Coronavirus outbreak: Hajdu outlines how officials will ensure safe repatriation of Canadians from Wuhan
Coronavirus outbreak: Hajdu outlines how officials will ensure safe repatriation of Canadians from Wuhan – Feb 6, 2020

More than 370 Canadians in Wuhan have asked to be evacuated over recent weeks, but officials have said they expect roughly 211 to be on the Canadian flight.

Canadians who are on the flights leaving on Wuhan on Thursday were notified via email earlier in the day following a delay to departure that kept the plane grounded in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Those who aren’t able to get to the airport or who have decided not to make the trip are being urged to contact consular officials.

Click to play video: 'What life is like for a Canadian living in Wuhan amid the coronavirus outbreak' What life is like for a Canadian living in Wuhan amid the coronavirus outbreak
What life is like for a Canadian living in Wuhan amid the coronavirus outbreak – Feb 6, 2020

Bin Zhang was one of the Canadians at the airport in Wuhan and spoke with Global News about the experience so far.

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“In terms of the whole process, everything was pretty smooth,” he said. “I have to say it was pretty organized. We knew exactly what to do next. When we met with one person, they would say, ‘Go to this spot and next you go to that spot’ and, you know, so on and so forth.”

He said most people at the airport seemed to be wearing masks, and there are things like temperature scanners set up throughout, along with questionnaires provided by Chinese officials asking whether people have had any contact with individuals with symptoms.

One Canadian passenger on the evacuation plane, Megan Millward, also shared several photos with Global News.

Officials wear protective gear in the Wuhan airport as medical screenings take place ahead of two evacuation flights on Feb. 6, 2020. Shared with Global News by Megan Millward
The inside of an evacuation flight carrying Canadians out of Wuhan in China amid a coronavirus outbreak. Shared with Global News by Megan Millward

Upon their arrival in Canada, evacuees will be quarantined at CFB Trenton in southern Ontario for two weeks.

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Wuhan has been the epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak, which has now sickened more than 28,000 and killed 563.

READ MORE: China’s death toll soars above 560 as hospital tests new drug

It has also spread to more than 20 countries, with four confirmed cases so far in Canada.

Seven other Canadians have tested positive for the virus on board a cruise ship quarantined in Japan.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Champagne says 2 Canadians who tested positive on cruise ship are now at health facilities' Coronavirus outbreak: Champagne says 2 Canadians who tested positive on cruise ship are now at health facilities
Coronavirus outbreak: Champagne says 2 Canadians who tested positive on cruise ship are now at health facilities – Feb 6, 2020

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