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Chinese Canadians plead for third Canadian rescue flight from Wuhan

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Chinese Canadians whose family members remain in Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, are urging the federal government to send a third evacuation plane to bring home Canadians and permanent residents.

Wuhan and other cities across Hubei province went into lockdown on Jan. 23 as the Chinese government tried to contain the spread of the COVID-19, leaving citizens to have “close to zero” chance of leaving the city.

An open letter calling for a third rescue flight

Residents across the Lower Mainland who are originally from Hubei province, set up a WeChat group last week and sent an open letter to Global Affairs Canada on Saturday, hoping to reunite with their loved ones who are still trapped in Hubei.

Simon Zheng, a small business owner who works in Richmond and is also part of the WeChat group, told the Richmond News that at least 50 families are still stuck in Hubei, and each family has at least one Canadian citizen in it.

According to the letter, these families failed to board either of the previous chartered flights due to poor communication and misinformation, language barriers, isolation and mass panic.

“We estimate that the real number of Canadian families still confined in the province of Hubei is in reality much higher than what we have accumulated over the last three days… The longer this ordeal carries on, and the longer the lockdown continues for these unfortunate individuals, the more danger it will impose on the Canadians stuck there,” the letter reads.

“We cannot bear the thought of losing our family members if something were to happen in the next few weeks.”

People in Wuhan have been through a war without smoke: resident 

Melanie Huang, a former Richmond resident, is concerned about both of her dad’s and grandfather’s situation in Wuhan as the coronavirus has claimed more than 2,600 lives so far.

Huang said her dad flew to China on Jan. 13 to celebrate Chinese New Year with her 89-year-old grandfather, but now he can’t return to Canada since all train stations and airports have shut down.

“The virus has spread quickly over the past few weeks, and hospitals only accept coronavirus-related patients. If seniors slip at home or hurt themselves, they won’t get treatment in time,” said Huang.

There is also some confusion regarding who is qualified to board the Canadian evacuation flight, according to Huang.

“I contacted the Canadian embassy to check if my dad, who is a permanent resident of Canada, is allowed to leave on the fight, but the answer was ‘no.’ We were told that permanent residents who hold Chinese passports aren’t allowed to leave Wuhan.”

However, Huang later came across news from English media outlets saying that Chinese nationals who are family members of foreign citizens could board flights from Wuhan.

Huang said dozens of WeChat group members now count on the Canadian government to arrange the third flight.

“As family members, we are willing to chip in some money for the flight. The risk our loved ones currently face is very high. Basically, they have been through a war without smoke.”

Newly married couple face forced separation 

Meanwhile, Canadian citizen Zheng couldn’t celebrate the first Valentine’s Day with his wife after getting married late last year.

Zheng’s wife, who is in the process of getting permanent residency, went back to Wuhan to visit family members. Now, she is trapped there because the city has been locked down.

Zheng said they didn’t consider trying to board one of the first two chartered flights because they thought people who hold Canadian passports should be given priority to leave Wuhan. However, Zheng’s desire to reunite with his wife grows stronger as it’s uncertain how long the crisis will last.

“My wife has been self-isolating herself at home for the past few weeks. She is trying her best to stay safe, but long-time isolation might result in negative emotions,” said Zheng. “If there is another flight leaving Wuhan, I hope to see my wife on that plane.”

A spokesperson from Global Affairs Canada said they remain in regular contact with Canadians in China and are continuing to assist those in need.

In a written statement, the spokesperson added that Canadian citizens who require emergency consular assistance should contact the Embassy of Canada in Beijing at 86 (10) 5139-4000. Canadians can also call the department’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email sos@international.gc.ca.

However, Global Affairs Canada has not commented on whether it will send a third plane into Hubei to bring back the remaining Canadians there.

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Coronavirus cases in Canada up by over 450, total nears 12,000 – Global News

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The number of novel coronavirus patients in Canada continues to grow, as the country hit more than 11,000 total cases on Friday.

According to data from Public Health Canada, cases reached 11,747 as of 11 a.m. EST on April 3, up by more than 450 from the day before.

The total deaths in Canada is at 152, which is an increase of more than a dozen people.


READ MORE:
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1 million people worldwide

Quebec still holds the highest total cases, with 5,518. However, the most number of deaths have been reported in Ontario, at 67 of 3,255 cases, according to the data.

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Quebec’s death toll was at 36 as of April 3.

One day earlier, Canada’s total cases broke the 10,000 mark.

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PHAC reports that community transmission makes up 64 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 cases, meaning people who caught the infection without travelling or being in close contact with a traveller.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

However, the extent of community transmission is difficult to track through these numbers, as experts believe many people are asymptomatic.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, cautioned that the numbers won’t reflect what’s happening “right now,” because it doesn’t show the point in time when people became sick.

“What you’re seeing is what happened to someone when they were symptomatic at least two weeks ago,” she said at a recent press conference.


READ MORE:
Phone data shows Canadians avoiding restaurants, transit, stores, offices during COVID-19

“So even if you’re not hearing of cases in your community, it doesn’t mean there is no risk of exposure. We must all consider that anyone could be infected and keeping our two-metre distance is the safest bet.”

Tam said this week is “crucial” to see if physical distancing measures and closures have made an impact on the outbreak.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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COVID-19 researcher gains Canadian citizenship through historic virtual ceremony – Global News

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A University of Manitoba professor who has gained government funding to research solutions to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic was granted Canadian citizenship — without having to leave his home.

Dr. Adolf Ng took part in the first-ever virtual citizenship ceremony Thursday, according to a social media post from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, in order to meet what they called an “urgent need to facilitate COVID-19 research.”

“His new Canadian citizenship and passport allows him to perform essential work related to combatting COVID-19 and saving Canadian lives,” the ministry said in a follow-up Tweet.

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Citizenship ceremonies and tests have been otherwise cancelled due to the pandemic and resulting public health orders prohibiting large public gatherings.

Ng, who teaches supply chain management at U of M’s Asper School of Business, received $258,900 from Research Manitoba last month for research projects in both Canada and Wuhan, China, to find solutions to supply chain issues in Canada.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau closes Canadian borders to foreign travellers


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau closes Canadian borders to foreign travellers

The research project is one of dozens that have been partially funded by the federal government in order to ramp up Canada’s research and development into solutions to battle the pandemic, including searches for possible vaccines.

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Ng told the University of Manitoba Today news magazine that he was honoured to be granted his citizenship through the unusual ceremony, which has never been performed in Canada before.


READ MORE:
How long will coronavirus measures last in Canada? Experts say June or July

“What an extraordinary way to complete my citizenship journey!” he said.

“The officers in IRCC were really, really accommodating, and I greatly appreciate their efforts. I really want to attend a physical ceremony someday.”

The university says Ng’s research project is expected to begin later this month.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus: After shipment seized from Canada, FBI redistributing nearly 1M masks and gloves – Global News

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Medical supplies shipped from Canada to a New York man accused of price-gouging are now being redistributed to doctors and nurses amid the new coronavirus pandemic, according to U.S. authorities.

Baruch Feldheim, 43, was arrested on Monday in Brooklyn and charged with lying to federal agents after he allegedly sold a doctor approximately 1,000 N95 masks and other medical materials for $12,000, a roughly 700 per cent markup, according to the FBI.

READ MORE: Trudeau sidesteps questions on whether China’s coronavirus data is trustworthy

Feldheim was also charged with assaulting FBI detectives after allegedly coughing on them during his arrest, claiming to have COVID-19, the agency said in a statement.

U.S. court documents allege that Feldheim acquired and resold the personal protective equipment out of an auto repair shop in New Jersey and his residence in Brooklyn.

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The FBI allege about “eight skids of surgical masks” arrived from Canada. The agency did not respond to questions about who in Canada shipped the supplies.

“According to records from Customs and Border Protection, on or about March 25, 2020, [Feldheim’s company] received a shipment by truck from Canada of approximately eight skids of surgical face masks,” an FBI affidavit says.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections


Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections

The stockpile of supplies included 192,000 N95 respirators, 130,000 surgical masks and nearly 600,000 medical-grade gloves, the FBI said. Agents also recovered surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant.

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According to the FBI, a doctor told agents he went to pick up his order at an auto repair shop in New Jersey, which was being used as a warehouse, he saw enough materials, including hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, cleaning agents, and surgical supplies “to outfit an entire hospital.”

READ MORE: Counterfeit Chinese-made face masks pulled offline after Global News probe

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said Thursday those supplies are now being distributed to health care workers in New York and New Jersey. The HHS said it used the Defense Production Act to take possession of the items and will pay Feldheim “fair market value.”

James Moriarty, Feldheim’s defense lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Global News, but Reuters reported that Moriarty had denied the charges. Feldheim has been released on a US$50,000 bond and a promise not to deal in medical equipment before his trial.

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Some provinces, including Ontario, have passed emergency legislation that could see price gougers of essential items face jail time amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE: Scammers have never had a more target-rich environment amid coronavirus pandemic — experts

New York has been one of the states hardest hit by the deadly virus, where hospitals have been overwhelmed by patients and there is an urgent need for personal protective gear.

As of Friday morning, there have been more than 92,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, including 51,800 in New York City. More than 2,400 people with COVID-19 have died in the state, which has the largest number — around 38 per cent — of confirmed cases in the U.S.






0:49
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

Across the U.S. there are more than 245,000 cases of the deadly virus that have been confirmed and more than 6,000 deaths.

U.S. officials called the case a blatant example of hoarding of medical supplies and that it was the first of many price-gouging investigations related to COVID-19 equipment currently underway.

“If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door,” Attorney General William Barr said in the announcement.

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“The Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working tirelessly around the clock with all our law enforcement partners to ensure that bad actors cannot illicitly profit from the COVID-19 pandemic facing our nation.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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