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Bored and abandoned: Canadians trapped in Wuhan say lockdown is a balance of tedium and anxiety

Bored and abandoned: Canadians trapped in Wuhan say lockdown is a balance of tedium and anxietyCanadians trapped in Wuhan, China, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak say they're safe but feeling abandoned by their consular officials.Wayne Tremblay is one of 168 Canadians stuck in Wuhan.He says the streets are quiet, but there are no barricades. Stores are open and nobody is in a panic, but they are anxious, bored and frustrated that American and British governments are working hard to get people out, while Canada is not offering much help.There was nothing out of the ordinary when the Nanaimo, B.C., man headed to Wuhan Jan. 19, but that had all changed just two days later.Cabin feverBy Jan. 21, he said, authorities began requiring masks and were reporting the virus was spreading human to human."It was pretty surprising — historically this has never really been done before," said the 37-year-old branch manager of an insurance adjuster office on Vancouver Island.Now Tremblay and his spouse are trapped in Wuhan. He said stores are well-stocked and he's seen no panic."It's fine other than cabin fever because you are stuck inside a house all day. Every day," he said.Tremblay said that he is disappointed with the response he got from Canada's 24-hour consular line.Tremblay said Canadian authorities made it clear that they are not trying to get citizens out on planes. He said that made him feel uneasy."Abandoned. Pretty bluntly, just abandoned," said Tremblay.His flight home Feb. 2 is now cancelled."Everyone is under the assumption that if other countries [are helping citizens get home] that Canada would be doing that — but they are not."Unverified videos circulating on social media show overcrowded hospitals and food shortages."That's not something we are experiencing," he said.In China, he says, his wife and friends share inspiring social media videos showing neighbours sharing wine between buildings using their clothes lines — or singing songs to pass the time."Everyone is coping well," he said.Stricter than SARS controlsThe lockdown is unprecedented —- and much more strict than ever experienced even by people from Wuhan who lived through the SARS outbreak years ago."My family survived SARS," said Mei Jie Han, who moved from Wuhan to Vancouver. He was 15 when SARS hit in 2003.He remembers hanging out with his friends because schools were shut."But it wasn't like this. You could still travel. It wasn't scary," said Han, who is in B.C.He said his parents, Li Mei and Jian Gang Han, feel trapped in their Wuhan home in the district of Jiang-An.Han's parents travelled from Delta to Wuhan on Jan. 10. They were expected to return by Feb. 8.Han's mother, 57, helps care for his four-year-old daughter, and he had been planning to travel to Florida for business.Han says his parents are anxious."She can't go out anywhere. She says now I know what it feels like to be a dog. To be locked at home for the whole day," he said. Han says his parents are struggling to find fresh food — and face masks."You either stay home and starve or you risk it and go out to get food," he said.When trucks arrive at the stores, he says, people buy items before they are shelved. But he said the biggest issue is boredom — and the lack of direction from Canada.The instructions are to stay home and stay safe and follow instructions from Chinese officials, he said."Physically they are OK. They don't have any symptoms," said Han, who is eager to get his family home and some normalcy back.

Alberta's climate plan part of cabinet decision on new oilsands mine: Wilkinson

Alberta's climate plan part of cabinet decision on new oilsands mine: WilkinsonOTTAWA — Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says cabinet's decision on a massive new oilsands mine in Alberta will take into consideration what the province is doing to help Canada meet its climate goals.Wilkinson stressed that cabinet has not yet decided whether to green light the proposed $20 billion Teck Frontier mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta.But he says any decision on new projects considers how they fit with Canada's goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and provincial efforts to help.Wilkinson notes Alberta is still fighting Ottawa's federal carbon price in court.The federal government was clear in 2016 that when it approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, it did so knowing Alberta was imposing a cap on total oilsands emissions and was about to launch a province-wide carbon tax.When Jason Kenney became Alberta premier last year, he kept the emissions cap but immediately scrapped the carbon tax and sued the federal government when it stepped in to impose the federal version in its place.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2020.The Canadian Press

Island musicians 'tongue-tied' after hearing of Juno nominations

Island musicians 'tongue-tied' after hearing of Juno nominationsTwo P.E.I. musicians have nabbed nominations for the 2020 Juno Award for best contemporary roots album of the year.Nominees for Canada's best-known music awards were announced in all 42 categories Tuesday.It is Irish Mythen's first Juno nomination for her album Little Bones.Catherine MacLellan, who won the award in 2015, has also received a nomination this year for her album Coyote. The pair celebrated their nominations together while on the road, showcasing their work in the U.K.'Even more excited'"We're kinda tongue-tied and a little bit slow because we're still trying to get over the huge news," Mythen said. She said she was huddled together with the group of Island artists around a phone watching CBC's live feed. "When I saw Catherine's picture and name come up on the live feed I was ecstatic, absolutely elated and then my little head popped up too — I was like, 'Yep, alright now I'm even more excited.'" While a nomination is always exciting, MacLellan said this one has added meaning because it's for her first self-produced album."It's so great. I'm so excited," she said. "To be honest, I actually get to go to the awards this time because last time I was in Germany on tour and nobody knew what I was talking about when I said that I won a Juno."The Juno Awards take place on Sunday, March 15 in Saskatoon.More P.E.I. news

Western P.E.I. bakery struggling to find workers

Western P.E.I. bakery struggling to find workersThe Maple House Bakery and Café in O'Leary, P.E.I., is holding an open house next week in the hopes of attracting some new employees.The business is operated by Community Inclusions, and some people with intellectual disabilities help with various jobs around the bakery. Site manager Laurie-Ann Waite said they need a full-time baker and there are four part-time positions open as well, in both the café and the bakery."We find it difficult to find individuals who want to work full time, and we actually find it difficult to find individuals who want to work part time," said Waite."We feel like we've been short for quite a while, but we work as a team to get the job done."Waite said the existing employees have been working extra hard at times to fill the gap in staffing.'Positive environment'Having people with intellectual disabilities help out around the bakery is a real benefit for the workplace, said Waite."Working here with the individuals with disabilities, I don't believe there's any other place you could go to work and see such a positive environment," she said."You get lots of compliments from those guys. They love new people and it's just a really positive, loving place to work."The open house is Feb. 5 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.More P.E.I. news

B.C. man presumed to have coronavirus doing well: health official

B.C. man presumed to have coronavirus doing well: health officialVANCOUVER — Health officials in British Columbia say a man in his 40s is presumed to have coronavirus and is doing well as he recovers at home.Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said Tuesday the man works regularly in China and lives in the Vancouver area.She told a news conference the man has voluntarily isolated himself since returning to Canada last week and no members of his family have shown any symptoms as they are being monitored by health officials.The government said the man began showing symptoms 24 hours after returning home. The majority of his most recent trip to China was spent in Wuhan, the city at the centre of an outbreak in that country.He contacted a primary health-care provider on Sunday to notify them he had travelled to Wuhan and was experiencing symptoms before coming in for assessment and treatment.The province expects to have tests results from the man's case back from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg within 48 hours.If confirmed, it would be the first case of coronavirus in B.C. There have been two other presumptive cases in Canada.As officials in Vancouver were speaking, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the risk in Canada is low."It's a sign that the system is working," Hajdu said in Ottawa."When we can confirm cases quickly, when we can actually do the appropriate investigations, that's when we can contain the spread."Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne was scheduled to hold a news conference later today to discuss the government's plans to help Canadians who are stuck in China and unable to leave because of quarantines imposed there. Some of them want Canada to evacuate its citizens from China, as other countries are doing.Champagne said he's been in contact with the Chinese government and is co-ordinating with other countries on the ground "as to what's going on, what's the best way to evacuate citizens."Hajdu said part of the planning involves how to bring back people who may be infected with the virus so that they don't wind up spreading it in Canada."Canada is taking its responsibility very seriously to Canadians but also making sure that we know exactly how to do this and a process that will result in the safety of all Canadians," she said.The B.C. government also said the risk of the virus spreading in the province remains low."All necessary precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of infection," a joint statement from Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix says. "We have multiple systems in place to prepare for, detect and respond, in order to prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases in the province."It says the BC Centre for Disease Control has developed a diagnostic test for the new coronavirus and is working to ensure potential cases can be detected quickly and accurately.China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of a new form of coronavirus, with at least 106 deaths.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2020. The Canadian Press

Tuesday 28th of January 2020 08:38:36


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