British Columbia

Mother pleads for Canada to evacuate her daughter from 'life-threatening' situation in Wuhan

A mother in B.C. is pleading with the Canadian government to evacuate her daughter from the locked-down city of Wuhan, China, saying the situation is "life-threatening."

France and the United States have announced plans to evacuate their citizens from the region

Lily Lu and her daughter, Fiona Dong, who is currently locked down in Wuhan. (Submitted by Lily Lu)

A mother in B.C. is pleading with the Canadian government to evacuate her daughter from the locked-down city of Wuhan, China, saying the situation is "life-threatening."

Lily Lu's 30-year-old daughter, Fiona Dong, travelled to Wuhan from Taiwan, where she is pursuing a PhD, on January 10 to visit relatives.

Dong, a Canadian citizen, was scheduled to fly back to Taiwan on January 27, but is now hunkered down at her relatives' home as the virus spreads.

"I'm worried so much, I can't sleep every day. Every day if she can't get out, she's [in] danger. She's my only daughter so I'm so concerned about that," Lu said.

Forty-two people have died from the coronavirus, which now infects 1,400 people and has been detected in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, and the United States.

Canada announced its first "presumptive" case of the coronavirus on Saturday. 

Wuhan, a city with a population of about 11 million, has been put on lockdown to prevent the virus from spreading, a public health measure the World Health Organization called "unprecedented."

Public transit in the city has been shuttered, and as of Saturday, officials had banned most vehicles, including private cars, from the downtown area.

Speaking from her cellphone, Dong said she hasn't gone outside since the lockdown began, but from her windows she sees few people in the streets, all of them donning medical masks.

"I have no idea when I will be able to leave here," she said.

"I'm in a dangerous situation."

Dong says she now spends her days holed up inside, monitoring the news and WeChat, and checking in with her mother in Vancouver. Her family has begun stockpiling food. She's hoping Canada will move to evacuate its citizens from the region.

"I want to know what the government is going to do for Canadians in Wuhan. So far they haven't taken any action," she said.

"We can't just stay at home and hope that the officials help us."

The United States is arranging a charter flight on Sunday to bring its citizens and diplomats back from Wuhan. France has also announced plans to evacuate citizens.

In a statement, Global Affairs Canada said it is "closely monitoring the situation. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously."

GAC is recommending that Canadians avoid non-essential travel to the province of Hubei, including the cities of Wuhan, Huanggang and Ezhou.

There are currently 67 Canadians in Hubei who have registered with the Registration of Canadians Abroad Service. Registration with the service is voluntary and doesn't accurately reflect the number of Canadians in the region.

Lu is now contacting American embassies, hoping her daughter can secure a seat on the American plane set to leave on Sunday, calling her plight "urgent."

"That's the only hope for her to get out. There's no time, the Chinese government didn't say when they will open the city, so the longer she stays there the more danger she's [in]."

About the Author

Michelle Ghoussoub

@MichelleGhsoub

Michelle Ghoussoub is a journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. She has previously reported in Lebanon and Chile. Reach her at michelle.ghoussoub@cbc.ca or on Twitter @MichelleGhsoub.

With files from the Associated Press

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