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Coronavirus: Process underway to airlift 200 Canadians from epicentre, Trudeau says


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is going through a “deliberate process” to airlift nearly 200 Canadians out of the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, while other countries continue to get their citizens home.

Speaking to reporters in Montreal, Trudeau said his government is doing what it has to do to ensure the risk to Canadians at home remains low.

Canada is seeking Chinese approval to send a plane to the locked-down city of Wuhan to collect the 196 Canadians who have asked for help to leave. Trudeau said the government is co-ordinating evacuation efforts with other countries.

“It is a deliberate process in which we are engaged responsibly,” Trudeau said Friday.

Myriam Larouche, a 25-year-old from L’Ascension, Que., who is in Wuhan studying tourism management at the Central China Normal University, said she received an email Friday morning from the Canadian government telling her to be ready to leave.

“They still don’t know the date and the time but it’s probably going to be in the next day or two,” said Larouche in a video call with The Canadian Press from her dormitory. “I hope so.”

She said she was also told that she’d only be allowed to take one carry-on bag with her on the plane.

She was going to get the bag ready Friday afternoon — a welcome change to her routine since the lockdown, which includes practising her Chinese, exercising, studying, watching Netflix and chatting with her mother back in Canada.

While there are still quite a few students on campus and in her dormitory, she said there is no noise and the place feels like a “ghost city.”

“People are locked in. People are avoiding going out,” she said. “It’s like the nighttime but during day time. When there’s no virus there’s more people around during the night than there are right now.”

She said she’s been taking her temperature every day and wears a mask even when she steps out of her room and into the hall. The school provides her masks and also has a hotline for any help students might need, she said.

Grocery stores are well-stocked and she cooks her food in the residence, she said.


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