In light of the spreading coronavirus outbreak, CTV News has learned that Global Affairs Canada has authorized the departure from China of select diplomats and their dependents.
Staff with "existing medical conditions, mental health concerns, the elderly, or other vulnerabilities, as well as all school aged and younger children" will be evacuated from the Chinese capital Beijing.
According to a statement from Global Affairs Canada, certain overseas missions have also been granted "flexible work arrangements, including working remotely."
The federal government has also pledged to retrieve nearly 200 other Canadians who have requested to leave Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. Timing of this mission and specific details about where the passengers will be taken to are unknown.
"We are engaged with Chinese authorities around repatriating Canadians who are in China and concerned for their safety. It is a deliberate process in which we are engaged responsibly. We will have more to say on that in the coming days," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday in Montreal.
He added that Canada’s experience handling the SARS crisis in 2002-03 has provided the government a roadmap to more effectively manage an outbreak of this scale now.
"Our experience with SARS in 2003 meant that we created protocols and a system that is handling the concerns around this threat very, very well. That's why the threat to Canadians remains low here in Canada," Trudeau said.
To date, there are three confirmed cases of the virus in Canada: one in B.C. and two in Ontario – one of whom was discharged from hospital Friday.
Trudeau, his Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, and Health Minister Patty Hajdu have sought to reassure Canadians they’re doing what they can to not only repatriate Canadians abroad but to ensure the virus remains contained at home.
"We will continue to work with the international community to ensure that the threats remain across Canada and indeed as much as we can around the world," Trudeau said.