Last week, the first group of Canadians stuck in China amid the coronavirus outbreak were flown home by the government. Among the people travelling to be quarantined in Trenton, Ont., was Myriam Larouche, studying in Wuhan but originally from Quebec.
“It was pretty scary because the city was looking like a ghost town,” Larouche told Yahoo Canada. “There was no one outside, nobody walking around.
“People that were outside, it was because they had to and they were wearing [hazmat suits]...even people at the airport.”
Larouche’s trip back to Canada was off a rocky start. She left her dorm at Central China Normal University, where she was studying tourism management, around 1:00 p.m. local time but had to wait for about 10 hours at the airport before she and the other Canadians could actually board the plane.
“In the email they said...it’s not going to be like a normal flight that we’re used to,” Larouche said. “They asked us to be patient and...it’s going to take time, so we were aware of that. We started boarding at midnight.”
She had been getting some updates from Global Affairs Canada, specifically updates regarding the flight back to Canada, but Larouche said the university did a particularly good job sharing information with students and were able to answer all her questions while she was at the school.
Inside the flight back to Canada
According to Larouche, the flight was quite smooth and the passengers were given food and water a few times during the 14-hour trip, but the travellers did need to take some precautions while on board.
“We had to wear the masks for those 14 hours and on the flight they screened us, they took our temperature, maybe twice or three times,” she said. “It was a pretty normal flight except that there were doctors and nurses.”
The plane stopped in Vancouver for two hours to refuel and the passengers on the plane were happy to be on Canadian soil.
“The one thing that I really liked is that when we landed in Vancouver and Trenton, this happened twice, people...started clapping and cheering,” Larouche said.
Experience in quarantine
Larouche said the conditions at the Canadian Forces Base are “very good” and officials are doing a “very good” job taking care of everyone.
“We are allowed to go out if you want to just like breathe some fresh air and walk outside,” she said. “We also are allowed to have human interaction, as long as we wear our masks and we keep our distance. Conditions are really good.”
Although she has not received detailed information about what happens when the 14-day quarantine is over, Larouche plans to go back to her home in Quebec and would like to return to China, when possible.
“Once everything will get in order in China, once everything will be all right...I’m planning to go back because I started a degree and I didn’t finish it,” she said.
The student had been studying in Wuhan for five months before the outbreak. She still described it as a “beautiful city” with a lot to see and do.
“Now I’m feeling great, felling better, happy to be back home, just to be in a safe zone. I’m pretty thankful for that,” Larouche “I’m really grateful to be back to having a government that has been able to set up everything. I’m really happy.”