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First Canadians repatriated from coronavirus-hit Wuhan arrive in Canada

Published: Updated:

A plane bringing home the first Canadians from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic, landed Friday at a Canadian military base where they will be quarantined.

The government-chartered jetliner landed at Trenton air force base east of Toronto at around 6:30 am (11:30 am GMT), after a refueling stopover in Vancouver. It carried 174 passengers, said Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.

Another American plane with 39 Canadians on board also landed in Vancouver, he said. Those passengers were to take a connecting government flight to Trenton later in the day.

Several countries including the United States and France have already repatriated their citizens from Wuhan.

Canada’s airlift took longer to be approved by Chinese authorities.

The group of Canadians, permanent residents and a handful of Chinese nationals with visas who accompanied Canadian minors on the flight will remain at the Trenton base for 14 days, the incubation period for the illness.

None of the passengers showed signs of infection, Health Minister Patty Hajdu told public broadcaster CBC, but if they do they will be sent to hospital for care.

She said the evacuees have been under a “tremendous amount of stress,” noting some were separated from their children or had to leave others behind.

“Although the passengers won’t be interacting with each other, there will be opportunities for them to leave their room” at the Canadian base, she said.