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Montreal Family Stranded In China Due To Coronavirus Outbreak Finally Allowed To Come Home

An apparent miscommunication between Chinese and Canadian officials left them trapped.
Staff Writer
Coronavirus Outbreak Stranded A Montreal Family In China
  • Megan Millward and her family were unable to return to Montreal after the Chinese government put Wuhan and surrounding regions under quarantine due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Though Millward and her children are Canadian citizens, her husband is a permanent resident, complicating their ability to evacuate.
  • Millward briefly spoke to MTL Blog about the experience.

A Montreal family that was stranded in China for almost a week due to the novel coronavirus outbreak is finally allowed to come home. Megan Millward, her husband Lie Zhang, and their two children, aged six and two, were between the two countries, waiting for assistance from the Canadian Embassy. While the family showed no symptoms of coronavirus, they were stuck in the Hubei Province. Millward tells MTL Blog that her husband wasn't on the evacuation list due to an apparent miscommunication between Chinese and Canadian officials.

In a brief conversation Wednesday evening, Millward told us that her husband was "not on the list of passengers because he only has permanent residency, not citizenship."

"I'm trying to get Canada to add him to the list because the officials in China that we talked to said [permanent residency] is ok, as long as they're on the list, but Canada says China told them only citizens with Chinese visas" were allowed to evacuate the quarantine zone, she said. 

This afternoon, Millward confirmed to MTL Blog that Canadian officials were able to solve the problem. "At the last minute, my husband has a spot on the plane. We are on the plane and waiting for boarding to finish," said Millward.

According to CBC News, the family was in China to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

As they celebrated in Hubei Province with Zhang's family, the Chinese government announced a complete lockdown of Wuhan and surrounding areas. 

Unable to catch their flight due to highway blockades, the family requested help from the Canadian government. The request fell on deaf ears at the time. 

[rebelmouse-image 26886937 photo_credit="Provided by Megan Millward" expand=1 original_size="5632x4224"] Provided by Megan Millward

Right now, we can confirm that Millward and her family are safely on a plane and on their way back home to Montreal. Though they've manifested no symptoms of coronavirus, they'll likely be examined upon return to Canada.  

Millward and her family were among over 370 Canadian citizens asking for help evacuating Wuhan and its environs. 

[rebelmouse-image 26886938 photo_credit="Provided by Megan Millward" expand=1 original_size="2736x3648"] Provided by Megan Millward

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced that a flight with roughly 211 Canadians will make its way back here this Friday, February 10. A second flight is scheduled for the following week in order to repatriate the rest.

Canadians who arrive from China will be quarantined for 14 days at a Canadian Forces Base in Trenton. 

The novel coronavirus has reportedly claimed the lives of some 565 people, almost all of them in China. Two deaths were reported outside the country, in Singapore and Hong Kong respectively. 

In Canada, five confirmed cases have been reported: three in Ontario and two in British Columbia. The second B.C. case is under a presumptive confirmation status until Winnipeg's National Microbiology Lab officially confirms it.

Due to troubling reports of racism against Chinese people in Quebec, government officials advised residents to resist false reports and the spread of fear. 

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