Tom Williams along with his wife Lauren and son James are seen in this undated handout photo. Tom Williams is a British expat who has been living and working for about five years in Wuhan, which is the capital of Hubei province in China. His wife Lauren, who is from Langley, B.C., is about 35 weeks pregnant, he said in a telephone interview from Wuhan. He also has a two-and-a-half-year-old son, James, who was born in White Rock, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Tom Williams *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Feds preparing plane to fly Canadians out of Wuhan, once China gives OK

160 Canadians have asked for help to leave province at centre of coronavirus outbreak

Canada has a plane preparing to fly Canadians out of the province in China at the centre of an outbreak of a new coronavirus, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Wednesday.

The next step is to secure co-operation from China to assist the 160 Canadians who have requested help, Champagne said. Not all of them want to leave, he emphasized in an appearance on Parliament Hill.

China has all but sealed off one of its central provinces where the novel coronavirus was first detected. The virus causes respiratory symptoms similar to the common cold, but it can be deadly in very severe cases.

At Champagne’s side, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the government still has to decide what will happen with the Canadians who leave China, so as to prevent any spread of the illness.

Champagne said Canada is working with allies to co-ordinate plans and make the logistics work, and that could take some time yet.

Some other countries have promised similar help for their citizens stuck in the province of Hubei — particularly those that have diplomatic offices there, which Canada does not — and Champagne said Canada isn’t far behind them.

“The only plane which has landed is a U.S. plane that was scheduled to be there,” Champagne said, which was then followed by a plane sent by Japan earlier Wednesday.

A teacher who is living with his pregnant Canadian wife and child in a city that is the epicentre of China’s coronavirus outbreak had been hoping to get out of the country on a British flight.

Tom Williams is hoping to get his wife, Lauren, who is about 35 weeks pregnant, out of Wuhan, the Hubei city that has been essentially locked down with the emergence of the disease. The couple also has a two-and-a-half-year-old son, James, who is Canadian.

READ MORE: Family hopes Britain can get pregnant B.C. woman out of coronavirus epicentre in China

Williams is a British expat and his wife and son are from Langley.

“We’re just currently waiting to hear confirmation whether we’ve got space on the British flight,” Williams told The Canadian Press in a FaceTime interview from China on Wednesday, before Champagne’s announcement.

The family received a call from officials in Ottawa earlier this week, who asked permission to share his wife’s file with the British Embassy, he said.

“We have some stuff laid out in case it’s a last-minute departure.”

The virus has killed 132 people and infected more than 6,000 on the Chinese mainland and abroad.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, will brief MPs on the Commons health committee Wednesday afternoon.

At least 250 Canadians have registered with Global Affairs Canada to say they are in Wuhan, said Champagne, who added that officials are trying to contact everyone to assess their needs.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Dougal the blind raven enjoys role as ambassador at North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

Bird helps animal care technicians teach visitors about his species

Alberni celebrates First Nations heritage with new mural

Image at the entrance of Harbour Quay depicts the history of Tseshaht First Nation

EDITORIAL: It’s time to move on Bamfield Road project

Residents are tired of their pleas being ignored, like they have been for the past two decades

Vancouver Island dance classes billed as female empowerment tool

New Comox Valley business focuses on ‘promoting positive body image’

Restored boat on display in Sointula, honouring the past

A 34-foot gillnet fishing boat built on Malcolm Island in 1948 is the newest museum addition

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Development permit approved for new auto dealership in Nanaimo

City council votes in favour of Mitsubishi building design proposal, including variances

Nanaimo RCMP resumes fingerprinting, police information check services

Certain services now available by appointment at detachment

Comox Valley Ringette Association requests equal ice time

Organizers want system changed to ensure gender equity for ice sports other than hockey

Nanaimo musician plays all instruments on DIY debut album

Jamie Penner releasing guitar-centric instrumental record ‘Out of Curiosity’

Police seek ‘high-risk sex offender’ last seen in Victoria

Scott Jones is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for being ‘unlawfully at large’

Most Read