B.C. woman calls for Canada to help extract daughter from quarantined Chinese city
VANCOUVER -- An instructor at a Metro Vancouver university says her daughter is stranded in the quarantined Chinese city of Wuhan, and she's asking the Canadian government to join France and the United States in their efforts to evacuate their citizens from the area.
Lily Liu, who teaches at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, told CTV News Vancouver her daughter Fiona Dong left for China on Jan. 10 to visit her father and grandparents in Wuhan.
She was planning to stay through the Lunar New Year and leave China on Feb. 10, but changed her departing flight to Jan. 27 as the outbreak of a novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan began to spread, Liu said.
Then, on Wednesday, China cut off all travel into and out of Wuhan, and Dong's airline cancelled her departing flight, leaving her stranded in the city.
"She is my only daughter," Liu said. "I'm worried every day. Also, all my family members who are in North America, we are so worried about her."
She said she has been speaking to Fiona daily since the city was quarantined. She said media reports her daughter has seen in China have suggested the city will be closed "at least eight weeks."
"The longer she stays there, the more dangerous," Liu said. "She's healthy now, but we don't know, you know, what will happen to her … If she can't get out now, every day her life is being threatened."
Liu spent much of Saturday morning on the phone, talking to relatives and trying to get assistance from the Canadian government.
Since cutting off trains, planes and other links to Wuhan, as well as public transportation within the city, China has steadily expanded the lockdown to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million. That's a greater total population than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined.
On Friday, France confirmed three cases of the coronavirus within its borders, the first three cases reported in Europe. Cases have also been recorded in the United States, Japan, Australia, Malaysia and elsewhere.
French automaker PSA Group says it will evacuate its employees from Wuhan, quarantine them and then bring them to France. The Foreign Ministry said it was working on “eventual options” to evacuate French citizens from Wuhan “who want to leave.” It didn't elaborate.
U.S media sources, including CNN, have reported that the United States is working on chartering a flight to get Americans out of the country, but the U.S. State Department had not confirmed those efforts Saturday.
Liu said she hoped Canada would make similar plans, but her calls so far have not been fruitful. She said the Canadian government's advice to travellers so far has been to follow the instructions of the local government in China.
"I'm so frustrated, because if the government doesn't take any action to help, for us, personally, we have no way to get out of the city," she said.
Global Affairs Canada has warned Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located and the novel coronavirus was first discovered.
CTV News reached out to Global Affairs to ask about what plans, if any, Canada has for evacuating its citizens from affected areas of China, as well as how many Canadians are currently in the country.
In a statement, the federal agency said it is "closely monitoring the situation."
"GAC is closely working with Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada to provide guidance to our diplomats serving abroad and their families for staying healthy and safe," the agency said.
"Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance can contact the Embassy of Canada in Beijing at 86 (10) 5139-4000," the statement continued. "Canadians can also call the department's 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 or email email@example.com."
Global Affairs Canada said it is aware of multiple Canadians who are currently in Hubei province, but it couldn't provide a concrete number.
With files from the Associated Press and CNN