B.C. man pleads for help getting wife and daughter home from Wuhan
Family are residents but not Canadian citizens, which may complicate return
Another B.C. family is pleading with officials to help reunite them after a wife and child have been trapped in Wuhan, China, which is quarantined because of a deadly coronavirus spreading through the country.
Monte Gisborne says his wife Daniela Luo and their nine-year-old daughter, Dominica, were visiting family in Wuhan for a couple of weeks while he got settled in Coquitlam to start a new job.
"The biggest challenge for me is keeping up hope that there's a solution to this problem," Gisborne said.
Luo and her daughter have been holed up in her parents' apartment. She says they only get outside every two to three days, usually wearing face masks and with as much of their bodies covered as possible.
"You don't know who is sick," she said in an interview with CBC News by messaging app. "So for us, we're very … scared."
Luo says she wants to return to B.C. to be with her husband, but she's also afraid of what might happen to her parents if she leaves them behind.
City on lockdown
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.
Gisborne, who is a Canadian citizen, said the city is now a ghost town — a stark contrast from how it is normally.
"It's a very busy place. It's on a scale that most people can't imagine," he said. "It's a full on potpourri of noises and smells and sounds and visions."
Gisborne says he's been in touch with consular services, but they haven't given him any indication that they could help.
'My government should step up'
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.
Global Affairs Canada says it stands ready to provide support services for any Canadian trying to leave China, but the government doesn't expect a chartered plane is necessary to evacuate Canadians from the Wuhan region.
Even if they did, it's not clear if Luo and Dominica would be onboard — they're permanent residents, not Canadian citizens. On its request for emergency assistance page, the Canadian government says its services are "only intended for Canadian citizens."
Gisborne thinks any help they provide should be extended to family members like his.
"I think my government should step up to help their people," he said.
'The hope fades'
Gisborne says he met Luo and her daughter about six years ago when he was working in Wuhan, running a business.
Four years ago they moved to P.E.I., and two weeks ago they moved to Coquitlam so he could start a new job.
The family often returns to Wuhan to visit family and friends, Gisborne said. Luo wanted to return with her daughter for the Chinese New Year, he said. The city was quarantined a few days after they arrived.
Gisborne says he has been in constant communication with his wife and daughter through WeChat.
He hopes the Chinese government doesn't cut off communication.
"As the news gets worse ... the hope fades."
With files from Tanya Fletcher