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Canada to quarantine citizens evacuated from Wuhan for 2 weeks over coronavirus concerns – CBC.ca

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Canadians evacuated from the coronavirus-affected region of China will be quarantined for two weeks at a military base to prevent the virus from spreading, Global Affairs Canada said on Sunday.

The department said the government has chartered a plane to airlift stranded Canadians out of Wuhan, China.

The plane is standing by and will fly to Hanoi, Vietnam, before heading to Wuhan once it receives the necessary authorization from the Chinese government.

The plane will take passengers to the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ont., where they will remain for 14 days under medical observation. Government officials and flight crew involved in the repatriation will also be quarantined.

“To protect the health and safety of Canadians — both those who are coming to and those already in Canada — the returning individuals will undergo a thorough health screening before boarding, during the flight and upon arrival at CFB Trenton,” Global Affairs said.

325 departure requests

The department said it has received 325 requests from Canadians who want to leave Hubei, the Chinese province hardest hit by the recent outbreak.

That’s up from the 196 requests Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne reported on Friday.

The increase shows the growing desire of many Canadians to get out of the region, where the number of confirmed cases and the death toll is increasing daily. Many Canadians have expressed concerns about loved ones caught in the lockdown of the area imposed by China’s government.

There are at least 543 Canadians in Hubei who have registered with Global Affairs Canada’s Registration of Canadians Abroad service. However, there could be more because registration is voluntary.

“The Government of Canada takes the health and safety of Canadians, both at home and abroad, very seriously,” Champagne said. “We are taking action to return Canadians home from Wuhan, China, while ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to prevent and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.”

Chinese authorities have clamped down on travel in the central cities of Wuhan, Huanggang and Ezhou in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus, turning normally bustling urban centres with populations in the millions into ghost towns.

China reported 17,205 confirmed cases of coronaviruses as of late Sunday, with the death toll there rising to 361. The world also saw its first case of a person dying from the virus outside China — a 44-year-old man in the Philippines.

In Canada, there are four confirmed cases. Three are in Ontario and the fourth in B.C.

Military to assist repatriation effort

The government has asked the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to help with the repatriation effort, the Chief of the Defence Staff confirmed on Sunday. The CAF will send medical teams to accompany government officials and will prepare a “reception and integration centre” where evacuees will stay upon returning.

Gen. Jonathan Vance sought to reassure the families of Canadians Forces members and neighbours in the Trenton area that the risk of transmission is low.

“My senior leadership and I have been fully engaged throughout the planning process,” Vance said. “We have full confidence in the protocols identified, and the measures put in place, to safeguard all CAF members and returning Canadians.”

Canada has already deployed a specialized unit of emergency response officials to China to co-ordinate the logistics of the planned airlift.

Global Affairs said officials from the Standing Rapid Deployment Team are on the ground in Hubei to help co-ordinate the arrival and departure of the evacuation flight, but did not say when the plane will take off from Canada or when it will land in China.

Several other countries, including the U.S., Japan, Germany, France and Turkey, have successfully completed airlifts of their own citizens out of the region.

Nearly 200 Americans have already been evacuated, and U.S. health officials ordered that they be quarantined for two weeks. It was the first time a federal quarantine has been ordered in that country since the 1960s, when one was enacted over concern about the potential spread of smallpox, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Canadians in Hubei should contact Global Affairs

Global Affairs said space on the evacuation flight to Canada will be limited and not guaranteed, and seats could be confirmed with little notice. Canadians in Hubei who want to get on the flight need to contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa to make arrangements.

The statement said Ottawa has been informed that only Canadian citizens who have entered China with a Canadian passport will be allowed to board the plane. Canadians with relatives who are Chinese nationals will have to decide whether to leave without some family members.

The department noted that only those with a valid Canadian passport would be allowed to board.

It’s unclear what kind of plane the government has chartered, and if there are even enough seats available for all the people who have requested an airlift.

“We try to keep families together whenever possible, and we have raised this with the government of China,” the statement said.

Canadians who have symptoms will not be allowed to board the aircraft.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said earlier this week that China has diagnostic tools to determine if someone is infected. Because the incubation period is anywhere from one to 14 days, she said there are “meticulous” measures in place to isolate individuals from other passengers if they develop symptoms during the flight.

Watch: Wait continues for Montreal family stranded in China

Montrealer Megan Millward worries her family of four may not be able to leave China’s Hubei province together 4:40

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Brazil’s Vale says output begins at Reid Brook nickel deposit in Canada

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Vale’s Voisey’s Bay nickel mine in Northern Labrador has started the production at its Reid Brook deposit, the Brazilian miner said in a securities filing on Tuesday.

Vale said the Canadian Reid Brook and Eastern Deeps mines are likely to produce 40,000 tonnes of nickel by 2025.

 

(Reporting by Carolina Mandl; editing by Jason Neely)

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EU, U.S. agree to talk on carbon border tariff

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The United States and European Union agreed on Tuesday to hold talks on the bloc’s planned carbon border tariff, possibly at the World Trade Organisation, EU chief executive Ursula von der Leyen said.

U.S. President Joe Biden met European Commission President von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel on Tuesday for a summit tackling issues from trade to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The leaders also discussed climate change policy, including the EU’s plan to impose carbon emissions costs on imports of goods, including steel and cement, which the Commission will propose next month.

“I explained the logic of our carbon border adjustment mechanism,” von der Leyen told a news conference after the summit.

“We discussed that we will exchange on it. And that WTO might facilitate this,” she said.

Brussels and Washington are keen to revitalise transatlantic cooperation on climate change, after four fractious years under former president Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, they outlined plans for a transatlantic alliance to develop green technologies and said they will coordinate diplomatic efforts to convince other big emitters to cut CO2 faster.

But the EU border levy could still cause friction. A draft of the proposal said it would apply to some U.S. goods sold into the EU, including steel, aluminium and fertilisers.

Brussels says the policy is needed to put EU firms on an equal footing with competitors in countries with weaker climate policies, and that countries with sufficiently ambitious emissions-cutting policies could be exempted from the fee.

The United States and EU are the world’s second- and third- biggest emitters of CO2, respectively, after China.

A draft of the EU-U.S. summit statement, seen by Reuters, repeated commitments the leaders made at the G7 summit at the weekend to “scale up efforts” to meet an overdue spending pledge of $100 billion a year by rich countries to help poorer countries cut carbon emissions and cope with global warming.

It did not include firm promises of cash. Canada and Germany both pledged billions in new climate finance on Sunday, and campaigners had called on Brussels and Washington to do the same.

The draft statement also stopped short of setting a date for the United States and EU to stop burning coal, the most polluting fossil fuel and the single biggest of greenhouse gas emissions.

Brussels and Washington said they will largely eliminate their CO2 emissions from electricity production by the 2030s.

 

(Reporting by Kate Abnett, additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Marguerita Choy, Andrew Heavens and Barbara Lewis)

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U.S. fine Air Canada $25.5 milliom over delayed refunds

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The U.S. Transportation Department said on Tuesday it was seeking a $25.5 million fine from Air Canada over the carrier’s failure to provide timely refunds requested by thousands of customers for flights to or from the United States.

The department said it filed a formal complaint with a U.S. administrative law judge over flights Air Canada canceled or significantly changed. The penalty is “intended to deter Air Canada and other carriers from committing similar violations in the future,” the department said, adding Air Canada continued its no-refund policy in violation of U.S. law for more than a year.

Air Canada said it believes the U.S. government’s position “has no merit.” It said it “will vigorously challenge the proceedings.”

Air Canada obtained a financial aid package this spring that gave the carrier access to up to C$5.9 billion ($4.84 billion) in funds through a loan program.

The carrier said it has been refunding nonrefundable tickets as part of the Canadian government’s financial package. Since April 13 eligible customers have been able to obtain refunds for previously issued nonrefundable tickets, it said.

The Transportation Department disclosed it is also “actively investigating the refund practices of other U.S. and foreign carriers flying to and from the United States” and said it will take “enforcement action” as appropriate.

The administration said the Air Canada penalty sought was over “extreme delays in providing the required refunds.”

Refund requests spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 2020, the Transportation Department has received over 6,000 complaints against Air Canada from consumers who said they were denied refunds for flights canceled or significantly changed. The department said the airline committed a minimum of 5,110 violations and passengers waited anywhere from five to 13 months to receive refunds.

Last month, a trade group told U.S. lawmakers that 11 U.S. airlines issued $12.84 billion in cash refunds to customers in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic upended the travel industry.

In May, Democratic Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal called on carriers to issue cash refunds whether flights were canceled by the airline or traveler.

($1 = 1.2195 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by David Shepardson in WashingtonAdditional reporting by Allison Lampert in MontrealEditing by Matthew Lewis)

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