Metro Vancouver families lobby for 3rd evacuation flight from Wuhan
VANCOUVER -- Simon Zheng and his wife Elizabeth Su were looking forward to spending their first Valentine’s Day together as husband and wife. Married last June in Vancouver, the couple were apart for Christmas after she went home to Wuhan to visit family. He had plans to join her there in January, but the coronavirus outbreak changed everything. Now Su is stuck in the epicentre of the outbreak and can’t come home to Surrey.
"Currently she is holding a work permit, which she only got at the end of November last year," said Zheng. That means she didn’t qualify for the two evacuation flights arranged by the Canadian government.
Su’s not the only Metro Vancouver resident still in lockdown in Wuhan. Li Tao’s parents, Yuzhi Zhang and Shenhe Tao, are permanent residents who’ve lived with her in Coquitlam for six years. Their trip to Wuhan has now been extended indefinitely.
"My parents...they live here. Their life is here, not in China," said Tao. They’re both in their 70s with heart problems, and their daughter is concerned if they seek medical attention in Hubei province, they could become infected with COVID-19.
"I have experience from SARS in 2003 in Beijing, and now I feel the situation in Hubei is much worse than 17 years ago," said Tao. "I would like the Canadian government to give us help and send a third evacuation flight to get these people to come out from Hubei."
Richmond resident Amelia Min managed to get home from a trip to Wuhan on the first evacuation flight because she’s a Canadian citizen. Her husband Jun Lu is a permanent resident and had to stay behind.
"I'm glad I can come back but I still feel very stressed, and I just blame myself. Why did I leave my husband over there by himself?" Min said. "He always says he's okay, he's okay. But I don’t think he's okay."
Zhang, Tao and Min are part of an online group of dozens of Canadians with family members still in Wuhan. They’ve teamed up to send letters to the prime minister and foreign affairs pleading for a third evacuation flight but have yet to hear anything officially.
"We heard the Canadian council in Shanghai already designated a person for us, so we can contact her and she's trying to escalate this to a higher level," said Zhang. "We want every family, every Canadian family, to be in the same place."
For now, they all communicate with their loved ones in Wuhan over video chat.
"It feels sad sometimes, when you cook alone and eat alone," said Zhang. "I do miss her."