Welcome home! Red Cross supports Canadians returning from Wuhan, China

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Canadian Forces Base Trenton
As the first travellers entered the airplane hangar at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, weary after more than 30 hours of travel and many days of isolation in Wuhan, China, they were greeted with a standing ovation from the assembled teams of Government of Canada and Canadian Red Cross personnel.

“You could just see their relief, and stress melting away,” says one volunteer from Ontario.
Joseph Leger
Texte by Joseph Leger - humanitarian worker - Canadian Red Cross

The Red Cross has more than 50 volunteers and staff in Trenton to assist the Government of Canada with the repatriation of Canadians that were stranded in China following the coronavirus outbreak.

As the new arrivals filed into the hangar, younger passengers traveling alone helped older travelers with mobility issues, while those fluent in English quickly jumped in to assist those who spoke Mandarin.

Red Cross volunteers were impressed at how calm and patient the travellers were as they passed through customs, followed by health checks before finally arriving at the Red Cross table.

“Especially the children, they were so calm and quiet,” says a member of our Emergency Response Team. “They loved the teddy bears -- one little boy got so excited he broke away from his parents and ran to get one of the bears we had out for them.”

Each traveler was greeted with a smile and a warm, “Welcome home.”

“A father who was traveling with his wife and child told me that as soon as they saw the Red Cross waiting inside, he felt all his anxiety fall away,” recalls a volunteer from Peterborough, Ontario. “You’re always there when needed, he said.”

Red Cross helped register the new arrivals, collected information on any immediate needs, distributed personal hygiene kits and handed out two large pallets of toques, gloves and winter coats.
  The travelers were then assigned rooms and provided food before being transported to the accommodations where they will be quarantined for 14 days.

“It has been the most positive emergency response I’ve ever been involved with,” says one volunteer from the greater Toronto area. “Every single person we helped thanked us for our time.”

“One passenger told me they had been a long-time volunteer for the Red Cross Society in China but had never imagined they would be sitting on the other side of the table one day.”

By late evening on February 7, more than 200 Canadians were safely housed in their isolated interim lodgings on the Canadian Forces base.

Red Cross will continue supporting the repatriated Canadians throughout their quarantine period by providing meal delivery services; safety and well-being support, including access to age-appropriate leisure and recreational activities; wellness checks; and, referrals for mental health needs.
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