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Canada still assessing needs as U.S., France, Japan begin to evacuate citizens from Wuhan – Global News

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The Canadian government has received requests for consular assistance from more than 100 citizens in China amid fears of the spread of a new coronavirus says Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.

But he added officials have not yet determined whether to evacuate them.




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Coronavirus outbreak: 126 Canadians in Hubei province have requested repatriation


Coronavirus outbreak: 126 Canadians in Hubei province have requested repatriation

In a scrum with reporters on Tuesday, Champagne said there are 250 Canadian citizens who have registered with Global Affairs Canada as being in China and that of those, 106 have requested aid in getting out as the new virus continues to spread.

“We’re trying to assess their specific needs for repatriation,” he said, noting it is currently the middle of the night in China which is complicating those efforts.

“We’re looking at all options to assist them. I’ll come back to you when I have more.”

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1:24
Coronavirus outbreak: Health Minister responds to new B.C. case


Coronavirus outbreak: Health Minister responds to new B.C. case

The U.S., France and other countries are preparing to evacuate their citizens from Chinese cities hit by the coronavirus.

But Canada has not yet announced plans to follow suit.

Champagne said the government is talking with other countries looking to evacuate their citizens and would not say whether the government was looking at sending an aircraft to get Canadians in need or if it would try to get them home on board aircraft from other evacuating countries.

READ MORE: German man who never visited China catches coronavirus through human-to-human transmission

Wuhan and most of Hubei, home to nearly 60 million people, has been placed under travel restrictions by China’s government as the number of cases in the country skyrocketed to over 4,500,

Global Affairs Canada also updated its travel advice warning citizens to completely avoid Hubei province.

Health experts say the decision to begin evacuations is complex and officials need to balance the risks people face on the ground in Wuhan with the possibility of importing more cases to Canada.

“Our public health system has to be ready do the kind of monitoring required for the people sent back here,” said Susy Hota, the medical director of infection prevention and control at the University Health Network in Toronto. “You don’t just want to pull the trigger … we have to be prepared.”

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READ MORE: Did China downplay the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus? Here’s what we know

Andrew Morris, a professor in the department of medicine at the University of Toronto who studies infectious diseases, said this decision to airlift people out of the country is made more difficult by the lack of information about the situation in Wuhan.

“We don’t have a great understanding of the epidemiology of the disease,” he said. “When the number of cases are relatively small you can manage things pretty effectively on a case by case basis.”

If Canada were to move ahead with evacuations the individuals would be immediately place in quarantine, according to Morris.






1:44
Coronavirus outbreak: CDC says virus screenings in U.S. expanding to 20 airports


Coronavirus outbreak: CDC says virus screenings in U.S. expanding to 20 airports

“Even if they don’t really need to be, I would think there would way to much public pressure to not quarantine them,” he said.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu weighed in on those concerns in the scrum with Champagne.

She said consular officials are speaking to those Canadians requesting assistance to try to understand things like whether they have symptoms and whether they may have been exposed to the virus.

“We don’t know yet what the situation is of those individuals,” she said.

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Here’s a look at the  evacuation plans from other countries:

– France’s first plane to repatriate nationals from Wuhan will leave Paris on Wednesday and return the next day. The flight will carry people with no symptoms, junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri told television channel CNews. “These people will be put under quarantine. And then there will be a second flight, at a yet undefined date, with people showing symptoms.”

– South Korea plans to send charter flights this week to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Tuesday. The planes will arrive in the city as early as Thursday, he told a ministerial meeting aimed at discussing efforts to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

-Japan will send a charter flight to Wuhan on Tuesday night. Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said the flight can carry around 200 passengers, but added about 650 citizens hope to return to Japan. Motegi said Tokyo is making arrangements for extra flights to Wuhan as early as Wednesday. Those with symptoms such as fever will be sent to hospital on landing at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

READ MORE: How the new coronavirus compares to SARS, MERS, Ebola and other diseases

-Kazakhstan has asked Beijing to allow 98 Kazakh students to leave the city of Wuhan.

-Germany will evacuate 90 citizens living in China’s Wuhan region.

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-Morocco will evacuate 100 citizens, mostly students, from the Wuhan area.

-The U.S. State Department said it will evacuate personnel from its Wuhan consulate to the United States and offer a limited number of seats to private U.S. citizens on a flight.

READ MORE: What we know about how the new coronavirus is spread

-Britain is talking to international partners to find solutions to help British and other foreign nationals leave Wuhan, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

-Russia has been in talks with China about evacuating its nationals from Wuhan and Hubei province, Russia’s embassy in China said.

-The Dutch government is assessing ways to evacuate 20 Dutch citizens from Wuhan, press agency ANP reported.

-Authorities in Myanmar said they had cancelled a planned evacuation of 60 students who were studying in Wuhan.

*With files from Reuters

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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More 'police' centres run by China found around world: NGO – CTV News

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A human rights organization says it has found dozens of additional overseas Chinese “police service centres” around the world, including at least two more in Canada.

In a new report released Monday called “Patrol and Persuade,” the Spain-based non-governmental organization Safeguard Defenders says it used open source statements from People’s Republic of China authorities, Chinese police and state media to document at least 48 additional stations.

This on top of the 54 stations revealed in September, bringing the total number of documented centres to 102 in 53 countries. Some host countries also have co-operated in setting up these centres, Safeguard Defenders says.

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The stations are accused of targeting Chinese nationals living abroad, particularly those who allegedly committed crimes in China, in order to coerce them to return home.

Safeguard Defenders reports that along with the three police “stations” previously confirmed in the Greater Toronto Area, which are operated out of the Chinese city of Fuzhou, it has found newly confirmed centres in Vancouver, operated out of Wenzhou, and another whose location is unknown but operates out of Nantong.

In a statement to CTV National News on Monday, the RCMP said it’s “investigating reports of criminal activity in relation to the so-called ‘police’ stations.” No further details were provided.

A similar statement was given by the police force to CP24 in late October following the previous report of Toronto-area stations.

The consulate general of the People’s Republic of China said at the time that the stations are to help Chinese citizens renew their driver’s licences, given many of them are unable to return to China due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the “local volunteers” facilitating this “are not Chinese police officers.”

However, Safeguard Defenders says the vast majority of the newly documented stations were set up starting in 2016, years before the pandemic began.

In its previous report in September, Safeguard Defenders found that Chinese police “persuaded” 230,000 claimed fugitives to return to China “voluntarily” between April 2021 and July 2022. Among the tactics used, Safeguard Defenders said, included denying suspects’ children in China the right to education and punishing relatives through “guilt by association.”

The U.S. Department of Justice accused seven people in October of a yearslong campaign to harass and intimidate a U.S. resident to return to China.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the G20 summit in Indonesia in November, his office told reporters that he had raised concerns with Chinese President Xi Jinping of “interference” in Canada.

Asked about what specific interference he referred to, Trudeau later told the House of Commons, “We’ve known for many years that there are consistent engagements by representatives of the Chinese government into Canadian communities, with local media, reports of illicit Chinese police stations.”

With files from CP24 Web Content Writer Joanna Lavoie, CTV National News Vancouver Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy, CTV News Toronto Videojournalist Allison Hurst and The Canadian Press 

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Trudeau 'extremely concerned' about report Canadian parts ended up in Iranian drones – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “extremely concerned” over a report Canadian-made parts have been discovered in Iranian drones used by Russia in its war on Ukraine.

Trudeau shared his worries with reporters in Ingersoll, Ont., Monday after the Globe and Mail reported on Sunday the discovery by a non-profit organization, Statewatch. Its “Trap Aggressor” investigation detailed last month that an antenna manufactured by an Ottawa-based Tallysman Wireless was featured in the Iranian Shahed-136 attack drone.

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Read more:

Canada sanctions Iranian drone makers amid Russian strikes in Ukraine


Click to play video: 'Federal government ‘extremely concerned’ about report Canadian-made parts found in Iranian attack drones used in Russia: Trudeau'

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Federal government ‘extremely concerned’ about report Canadian-made parts found in Iranian attack drones used in Russia: Trudeau


The drones have been used recently by Russia in Ukraine as Moscow increases its strikes on the country’s energy and civilian infrastructure.

“We’re obviously extremely concerned about those reports because even as Canada is producing extraordinary, technological innovations … we do not want them to participate in Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, or Iran’s contributions to that,” Trudeau said.

“We have strict export permits in place for sensitive technology that are rigorously enforced, and that’s why we’ve been following up with this company, that’s fully cooperating, to figure out exactly how items that we’re not supposed to get into the hands of anyone like the Iranian government actually ended up there.”

The Shahed-136 is manufactured by Shahed Aviation Industries, one of two Iranian drone makers Ottawa sanctioned last month for reportedly supplying Russia with its lethal drones. After denying reports it was supplying Moscow, Iran acknowledged for the first time on Nov. 5 it had sent Moscow drones before the Feb. 24 war began.


Click to play video: 'Russian missiles smash apartment block in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv: mayor'

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Russian missiles smash apartment block in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv: mayor


It denied continuing to supply drones to Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Iran of lying, previously saying Kyiv’s forces were destroying at least 10 of its drones every day.

Aside from its Iranian-made engine, the Shahed-136 consists entirely of foreign components, Statewatch said in its report. It cited Ukrainian intelligence managing to identify more than 30 European and American companies’ components, with most parts coming from the United States.


A drone is seen in the sky seconds before it fired on buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Oct. 17.


Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Drones like the Shahed are packed with explosives and can be preprogrammed with a target’s GPS coordinates. They can nosedive into targets and explode on impact like a missile, hence why they have become known as suicide drones or kamikaze drones.

Shaheds are relatively cheap, costing roughly US$20,000 each — a small fraction of the cost of a full-size missile.

Read more:

‘Game-changing’ drone warfare in Ukraine may tee up new phase of conflict: official

Drones “provide a critical capability” to exploit vulnerabilities in defences, and their use may be a prelude to a new phase in the conflict, U.S. Army Lt.-Col. Paul Lushenko previously told Global News.

Gyles Panther, president at Tallysman, told the Globe the company is not “complicit in this usage” and “is 100-per cent committed” to supporting Ukraine.

Ottawa is working to understand how the parts ended up in the drones, and wants to “ensure” incidents like this don’t “happen again in the future,” Trudeau said.

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Available Nexus appointments Canada

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There’s good news for those looking to expedite their border crossing experience.

To mitigate the ongoing backlog issues at Canadian border crossings, border officials have reopened two Nexus and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) enrolment centres in Canada.

It’s the first time any Nexus and FAST offices have been open in Canada since the pandemic began, and federal officials say more offices will be opening in the future.

The Nexus program, which has over 1.7 million members, is designed to speed up the border clearance process for its members, while also freeing up more time for Canadian and U.S. border security agents to tend to unknown or potentially higher-risk travellers and goods.

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The benefit of Nexus is that it allows for those travelling between the two countries to save time, skipping long lineups and using the shorter, dedicated Nexus lanes when crossing the border, as well as designated kiosks and eGates at major airports, and quicker processing at marine crossings.

Reopening these two Canadian centres is the first phase of a larger plan to address the lengthy Nexus and FAST backlog, and will increase availability for applicants to book appointments to interview for Nexus pre-approval, the Canada Border Service Agency said in a statement Monday.

Those looking to get Nexus approval can now schedule interviews, by appointment only, at the Lansdowne, Ont. (Thousand Islands Bridge) and Fort Erie, Ont. (Peace Bridge) enrolment centres, through the trusted traveller programs portal.

Travellers looking to apply will still need to complete a new two-step process, and the Canadian offices don’t mean applicants won’t have to cross the border to finalize the process.

If conditionally approved for Nexus status, travellers can complete the first part of the interview at one of the two reopened Canadian enrolment centres, then complete the second interview portion just across the border at the corresponding U.S. enrolment centres on the other side. For Lansdowne, that’s Alexandria Bay, N.Y., and for Fort Erie, it’s Buffalo, N.Y.

To become conditionally approved, both the CBSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have to grant approval prior to scheduling the interview portion, and interviews need to be conducted on both sides of the border.

“Nexus and FAST are a win-win for Canada and the United States – and we’re working hard to find creative solutions to reduce wait times, address the backlog and help more travellers get Nexus cards,” said Marco Mendicino, minister of public safety, in a press release. “This new, two-step process is further proof of our commitment to it. We’ll keep finding solutions that leverage technology and streamline renewals.”

Applicants also have the option to complete a one-step process and schedule complete interviews at enrolment centres in the U.S., which may be a preferred option for those who don’t live near the two centres currently open in Canada.

And those who are already members of the Nexus program and are awaiting an interview can renew their membership ahead of its expiry date in order to retain their travel benefits for up to five years.

More centres are expected to open at select land border crossings in the future, as this initial phase carries on, CBSA says.

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