A Canadian flag is hung up as people board a plane destined for Canada at the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport early in the morning on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020 in this handout photo provided by Myriam Larouche. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Myriam Larouche

Flight from Wuhan takes off for Canada

Plane expected to refuel in Vancouver before heading to Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario

A charter plane carrying Canadian citizens home from the centre of the global novel coronavirus outbreak has begun its journey home.

“The plane is wheels up,” Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a tweet Thursday afternoon after the evacuation flight organized by the federal government departed from Wuhan, the city in central China where the outbreak originated.

The flight is slated to stop to refuel in Vancouver before heading to Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario where it is expected to land early Friday.

All evacuees from Wuhan will then spend 14 days under quarantine on the military base.

Canadian officials have documented five cases of coronavirus in the country so far.

The plane was originally due to take off on Wednesday, but was delayed due to bad weather.

About 50 more Canadians are expected to leave China on board a United States government flight scheduled to depart later today.

The federal government has also chartered a second flight to bring more Canadians home next week.

The government had secured space for 211 passengers on the first flight, but Champagne said a number of them did not go to the airport.

“As expected, we had a small number of no-shows at the airport, mostly related to individuals who changed their minds at the last minute,” he said.

Champagne said anyone who decided to stay behind would continue to receive consular assistance.

More than 300 people have asked for Ottawa’s help getting out of the Wuhan.

Kate Schellenberg said she received a text message from her twin brother Michael as he was waiting to board. He is set to leave China with his wife Summer Wu and their one-year-old son Felix.

He told her that he could see people wearing yellow hazmat suits.

READ MORE: Second B.C. coronavirus case identified in Vancouver region

Global Affairs Canada had advised passengers to expect delays, noting that Chinese authorities would be performing health screening and immigration controls before people were allowed to board.

The new coronavirus has sickened more than 28,000 and killed 563 in China since the outbreak was first reported to the World Health Organization in December.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: 24-hour closure coming to Tofino-Ucluelet highway this weekend

Hwy. 4 at Kennedy Hill will be shut down from 11 a.m. Feb. 22 to at 11 a.m. Feb. 23.

Ucluelet resident sounds alarm over ‘environmental disaster’

Central Westcoast Forest Society estimates bridge project at Hyphocus Island could cost $1M.

Senior A Basketball: Maaqtusiis senior teams take on the Island Championships

Senior girls play at Duncan Christian and senior boys at Nanaimo Christian this weekend.

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read