Preparations are underway at Canada’s largest air force base to welcome 176 evacuees from Wuhan, China, one of the hardest hit areas of an outbreak of novel coronavirus.
According to the WHO, the outbreak has sickened more than 28,000 people in China as of the morning of Feb. 6, with 563 deaths reported.
By the evening of Feb. 6, that number had risen to 636.
“Just as we are supporting missions abroad, we are also ready to support those missions here at home,” explained Col. Ryan Deming, 8 Wing commander at CFB Trenton.
“The Canadian Armed Forces have been asked to support the whole of government effort to repatriate Canadian citizens from Wuhan, China safely and with dignity.”
About 150 military members have been working alongside federal, provincial and municipal authorities, as well as the Canadian Red Cross, to facilitate the evacuation.
They’ve been helping with logistical support and the arrival, reception and lodging of the repatriated Canadians.
“We are cognizant of the potential health risks and we are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our guests our personnel and also our local communities,” Deming added.
“The well-being of our members and their families is always a top priority for me as it is for all leadership within the Canadian Armed Forces.
“Every effort is being made to ensure the care, dignity and respect of the repatriated Canadians as well as the safety and security of all personnel dedicated to this whole of government approach.”
Canada plans to fly the evacuees to the base in Trenton, Ont., the country’s main military hub for air transport, and hold them in quarantine for two weeks.
They’re due to arrive on base sometime Friday morning.
“We in the city of Quinte West and the Bay of Quinte Region are here to support and assist in any way possible and we want to welcome our citizens back to Canada and give them the best care we can and say welcome home,” explained Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison.
The evacuees arriving from China will be separated from each other and others on the base, although family units will be kept together.
They will all stay at Yukon Lodge, a new facility on the base that resembles a hotel and is often used for military personnel.
“Residents of Quinte West, Belleville and Brighton and Prince Edward County can rest assured that our Canadian Armed Forces will be in a supporting role for those who will be providing direct medical care or observation for our fellow Canadian’s returning from China,” Deming said.
The base has screening and preparations underway and officials would like to contain the evacuees to the base.
If needed, however, they have supports in place with the local health authority and hospitals to provide further treatment.