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Plane to help 196 Canadians leave China awaits Chinese approval: official

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, a staff member moves bio-waste containers past the entrance of the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center in Wuhan, China, where some people infected with a new virus are being treated. The new virus comes from a large family of coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold. Others named SARS and MERS have killed hundreds in separate outbreaks. (AP Photo/Dake Kang, File)

196 Canadians are requested to leave China because of the new coronavirus outbreak

About 250 Canadians there are registered with Global Affairs Canada

OTTAWA – The Canadian government says 196 Canadians have asked for help to leave China amid an outbreak of a new virus.

Marta Morgan, the deputy minister of foreign affairs, told a House of Commons committee this morning that Canada is still working on getting Chinese approval to send a chartered plane to collect them.

To try to contain the novel coronavirus, China has all but sealed off one of its central provinces, beginning with the city of Wuhan.

About 250 Canadians there are registered with Global Affairs Canada, according to the government.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Canada is already taking the right steps to control the spread of the novel coronavirus despite the World Health Organization declaring a global emergency.

“We are working out, right now, a plan to protect Canadian’s health here in Canada and ensure that Canadians can be repatriated from Hubei who, in some cases, are in very difficult situations because of the quarantine China has placed,” she explains.

Hajdu notes there are strict protocols because of the quarantine, so negotiations between Global Affairs Canada and the Chinese government are underway.

She says Canada has been able to detect cases very quickly, support those people to get better and prevent the spread of disease.

Meantime, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer says she’s concerned about misinformation targeting people of Chinese descent.

“We have seen some very hurtful comments, irresponsible quite frankly on social media and other contexts. It’s unacceptable but really doesn’t do anything to help stop the spread of this virus,” Theresa Tam says. “It is understandable our fears increase during times of uncertainty. But when this fear leads to some people spreading stigmatizing stereotypes and misinformation it only does harm.”

Tam explains several existing vaccines for other coronaviruses are being examined. However, even if a vaccine goes into the first stages of a clinical trial, it wouldn’t be available for at least another year.

(The Canadian Press)<

With files from Marcella Bernardo