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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Human remains found in Maskwacis

The Maskwacis RCMP Community Response Unit and General Investigative Section are investigating… Continue reading

Homeschool play to take audience for a ride

Ponoka Thespians showcase a feud, a twist and a wedding

Bridges, Bobtail are county’s big projects in 2020

Paving and replacing pair of bridges are scheduled for the summer

Chamber receives update from Ponoka County

CAO speaks on items of interest over the past year

Patients to take hit as doctors’ deal killed

Cuts may force Ponoka clinic to make changes, makes recruiting harder

Fashion Fridays: Tammy’s big makeover

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Lawsuit over African mine can be heard in British Columbia: Supreme Court

B.C. courts dismissed Nevsun’s attempts to make Eritrea the forum for any lawsuit proceedings

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Winners and losers in Alberta’s 2020 budget

UCP government has tabled a new 20-per-cent tax on vaping devices and liquids

‘Finer focus on job creation:’ Alberta government files red-ink budget

Projected deficit of $6.8 billion on revenues of $50 billion

Explicit Greta sticker linked to Alberta company draws outrage

The sticker includes the logo of Red Deer-based X-Site Energy Services

Share Now, formerly Car2Go, leaves Canada with valuable data in changing market: expert

Vancouver was its largest market in North America, with more than 300,000 customers

What’s happening: Coronavirus forges on, as world hunts solutions

Japan closes all elementary, middle and high schools until spring holidays in late March

RCMP to stop providing security for Prince Harry and Meghan

Public safety minister says RCMP has been helping UK police intermittently since November

Most Read