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Ottawa, Feb 2 (Canadian-Media): A specialized unit of emergency response officials has been deployed by Canada to China to co-ordinate a planned airlift of increasing number of Canadians seeking to leave the region of novel coronavirus origin, media reports said.
Coronavirus. Image credit: Twitter handle
325 requests from Canadians, who want to leave Hubei, the province that is hardest hit by the recent outbreak of coronavirus were received by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) Sunday.
"We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously," Global Affairs spokesperson Sylvain Leclerc said.
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne's request to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday to assist Canadians in departing from China on a government-chartered plane was positively responded with a statement that officials from the Standing Rapid Deployment Team on the ground in Hubei would help co-ordinate the arrival and departure of the evacuation flight.
But the time of departure of the plane from Canada or its arrival to China had not been notified by GAC, although several other countries, including the U.S., Japan, Germany, France and Turkey, successfully completed airlifts of their own citizens out of the region.
Due to the limited space on the evacuation flight, Global Affairs said seats could be confirmed with little notice and asked Canadians in Hubei who want to board the flight to contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa to make arrangements.
Canadian government has been informed that only Canadian citizens who have entered China with a Canadian passport will be allowed to board the plane.
But still it unclear about the kind of plane chartered by the government, and if there are even enough seats available for all the people who have requested an airlift.
"We try to keep families together whenever possible, and we have raised this with the government of China," the statement said.
Canadians with symptoms will not be allowed to board the aircraft.
Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said earlier this week that China has diagnostic tools to determine if someone is infected and there are "meticulous" measures to isolate individuals from other passengers if they develop symptoms during the flight.
Details whether returning Canadians will be quarantined upon arrival, as has been the case in other countries, is still being worked out the government