This afternoon, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the government has a plane preparing to fly Canadians out of the province in China at the centre of the outbreak. The next step is to secure co-operation from China to assist the 160 Canadians who have requested help. Canada is working with allies to co-ordinate its plans and make the logistics work.
Meanwhile, Air Canada is halting all direct flights to China after the federal government’s advisory to avoid non-essential travel to the mainland. The suspension is effective tomorrow and slated to last until Feb. 29, Air Canada said.
Earlier today, British Airways halted all flights to China and American Airlines suspended Los Angeles flights to and from Shanghai and Beijing. They joined several Asian carriers that are either suspending or significantly cutting back service to the country.
World Health Organization will meet today to decide whether to declare the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. Such declarations are made in the case of “extraordinary” events that constitute an international public health risk and require a co-ordinated international response. The executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program said the global threat posed by the virus is growing and that all countries must mount a united response.
Global response to coronavirus puts effectiveness of quarantines to the test
Kent Frasure, an electronic technician from Oregon who was on board the Diamond Princess ship with his wife. They are now stuck in their cabins for the next two weeks, eating the food provided on the ship and spending a lot of time on their electronic devices because 20 of the passengers, including two Canadians, have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is offering to fly out dozens of Canadians stranded in Wuhan who could not be accommodated on a flight chartered by Ottawa. Questions remain about how Canada will evacuate the rest of its citizens from the region.
It all amounts to a sweeping test of the effectiveness of quarantine, a public-health measure that fell out of widespread use after the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919.