Canadians returning from coronavirus epicentre to be quarantined at CFB Trenton

Henrietta Brewer
February 4, 2020

The Chinese government has told Canada only those who have entered China with a Canadian passport would be allowed to board the chartered plane, so Canadian families - with relatives who are Chinese nationals - are being forced to decide whether to leave or stay put.

Canada's Chief of Defence Staff wants Trenton and area residents to know there is no risk to public safety while at least 325 Canadians are quarantined at CFB Trenton for two weeks upon their return from China this week. But officials said they were closely watching developments in other countries, including the United States.

Canada is arranging a flight to evacuate Canadian citizens from Hubei province in China, the centre of an outbreak of a novel coronavirus that has infected more than 17,000 people and killed more than 360.

Once the Canadians are brought home from the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, one expert believes the quarantine period will be more than adequate.

According to CNN, almost 200 Americans evacuated from Wuhan were asked by health officials to stay for at least three days at a Southern California military base. It is expected that B.C. will be the final destination for some of the returning Canadians, and we will continue liaising with the federal government as it identifies passengers for the repatriation flight. "The reality is that, obviously, we're working within their jurisdiction, and I know that Minister Champagne has been able to get some concessions around family unification, but I don't anticipate we'll be able to get the Chinese to concede on that point".

Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said a total of 304 people were seeking to be flown out. It was the first time a federal quarantine has been ordered in that country since the 1960s, when one was enacted over concern about potential spread of smallpox, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. "Furthermore, we need Chinese approval for the flight manifest, and all the documentation of Canadians wishing to leave in order for them to travel to the airport which, as you know, is now closed". She adds CFB Trenton is well equipped as a facility that is able to house people in a dignified manner. Permanent residents who are not travelling with kids will not be allowed on the flight.

She said many have already endured isolation and low supplies in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China that has been under quarantine in an effort to contain the spread of the virus, and will have undergone a great deal of stress before they arrive in Canada.

"I asked: 'Does this confirm she's going to be on the plane?' They said 'no.'" he said.

The numbers remain fluid and Canada has secured a second flight, as well as seats on other flights, should they be needed. It is not clear how numerous 280 Canadian passport holders used their Canadian passport to enter China, as some may also have passports from China or other countries.

She says many have been facing hard conditions under lockdown in the central Chinese city at the epicentre of the outbreak.

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