Canada’s Chinese Community Worry About Family, Friends in Wuhan Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

January 29, 2020 Updated: January 31, 2020

The coronavirus outbreak has many in Canada’s Chinese community concerned for their family and friends back in China.

Toronto resident Jason Wang says he is very worried about his mother who has contracted the virus in Wuhan—the epicentre of the outbreak—but so far has been unable to get any care.

Wang, who moved to Canada with his family a year ago, says his 72-year-old mother began showing symptoms of the illness earlier this month. After doctors confirmed she had the new coronavirus, she tried to get treatment at a hospital, but so far she hasn’t been able to and has had to stay isolated at home, running out of food and supplies.

“There are no beds in the hospital. Countless people are standing in line at the hospital, and some people can only lie in the hospital entrance or outpatient department,” Wang said.

“We don’t know when it will be her turn in the queue [to receive treatment], and I don’t know how many people are ahead of her. I can only wait for the director’s superiors to make a decision, and I don’t even know who the superiors are.”

Wang has been making phone calls to hospital staff to no avail, and he says relatives can’t go to her home as they live outside Wuhan and vehicle traffic from out of town has been banned. He says he wants to go back to help his mother but all flights are banned as well.

“The Chinese Communist Party [CCP] is responsible for the spread of the virus to so many other countries. The CCP’s closure of the city without providing food and medicine to ordinary people is really a threat to their lives,” he says.

Zhang Zhenyu, also a Toronto resident, says he has many friends and contacts in Wuhan and they’re all very concerned about how the pandemic is being handled by the authorities.

He says his contacts tell him there’s a lack of sufficient medical supplies in the city’s health-care facilities, and a severe shortage of facial masks as well.

Zhang notes that due to the authorities’ dishonest reporting on the situation, people aren’t aware of the true situation of the pandemic, adding to their concern. One of his contacts told him that many are hoarding food and staying at home so they don’t contract the virus.

Rushing Back From China

Meanwhile, many Canadian residents who were visiting China, especially given the recent Chinese New Year celebrations, have rushed to return in order to avoid getting the virus.

“I originally planned to return to Toronto in early February, but because of this outbreak I changed my return date to [Chinese] New Year’s Day [Jan. 25],” said Mr. Hu at Toronto’s Pearson Airport. “The situation in China is terrible, so I came back quickly. ”

Ms. Song, who flew from China to Vancouver on Jan. 26, said she was first “shocked” when she heard about the pandemic.

“Almost all facial masks were sold out in the city I’m from [in China],” she said.

Canada has issued an advisory on travel to Wuhan and the province it’s located in, Hubei. Canadian cases of the virus have so far been confirmed in a handful of people in Ontario and British Columbia.

Additional reporting by NTD Television

Follow Omid on Twitter: @OGhoreishi