An Alberta man who had been stuck in Wuhan, China after a travel lockdown due to the coronavirus said it is a relief to be back in Canada.
Carter Perrier, 30, of Calgary landed at CFB Trenton early Friday morning and is at the start of a 14-day quarantine at the military base.
“Landing in Trenton was definitely a big sigh of relief, saying okay I can get off this plane now. I can go somewhere. I can relax. I can be home,” he said.
The plane that left China was initially delayed due to weather. The 174 passengers underwent health screenings at the airport before being allowed to board.
Perrier had been in Wuhan for work and had been in the city since Jan. 3. A travel ban imposed on Wuhan and surrounding cities meant Perrier was stranded until the federal government could secure a way out for Canadians.
The chartered plane landed in Vancouver just after midnight local time on Friday.
“They didn’t even let us stand up. They said we were here for fuel, stretch your legs and sit back down. Don’t grab your bags, don’t do anything. So that put a pin in that celebration pretty early,” Perrier said.
“There was some applause when the plane landed [at CFB Trenton]. They said, ‘Oh we’re back in Canada now’ so people were excited about that.”
Passengers from the plane were taken to a hangar at CFB Trenton where they underwent customs with CBSA then processing with the Canadian Red Cross. Hygiene kits and extra blankets from the Red Cross awaited each evacuee in their own rooms.
“Everyone’s tired. Some of us are a bit grumpy so, just slow moving. But the volunteers are great. They were in great spirits. They were cracking jokes, trying to make us feel welcome so it was nice,” Perrier said.
Perrier said he felt relief when he finally got to the military base.
“I got my mask off for the first time in 30-some hours because I’m in my own room now,” he said.
“I travel quite extensively for work. It’s a long-haul under the best of circumstances flying for 15 hours at a time and combine that with the processing times…just a lot of anxiety around, when can I go lie down? I can’t wait to take a nap. I’m looking forward to that.”
Perrier also said the view from his motel room at CFB Trenton is very different from what he was used to seeing in Wuhan.
“It’s interesting though seeing vehicles. It’s been two weeks since I’ve seen a busy street. I know Trenton is not what we would consider a busy place, but to see cars on the road and people outside is a bit different than what I’ve been observing for the last few weeks,” he said.
He said he has a few plans in the works now that he is safely back in Canada.
“I got a work laptop. I can pop that open, do some work. Now that I’m back in Canada, my Netflix will work again so I can binge watch a few series that I’m a little behind on,” he said with a smile.
No cases in Alberta
Alberta Health said there are no probable or confirmed cases in the province as of Feb. 7.
It said 28 people have been tested for the coronavirus but all results have come back negative.
The province is working closely with Ottawa on the evacuated Canadians.
“We have not received an exact breakdown of the passengers’ province of origin, but are working with the Public Health Agency of Canada to ensure that any Albertans involved receive the necessary care and supports, both during the quarantine and after it is over,” said Tom McMillan, acting assistant director of communications for Alberta Health.
A United States government flight carrying 39 other Canadians departed shortly after the first Canadian plane. It arrived in Vancouver early Friday morning and landed in Trenton shortly after 1 p.m. EST.
More than 370 Canadians in Wuhan have asked to be evacuated in recent weeks. Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the rest are scheduled to be brought home next week on a second chartered Canadian flight.
The second flight is scheduled to leave Wuhan on Feb. 10 and get to the military base on Feb. 11, he said.