'I feel great:' Montreal couple stranded in China by coronavirus outbreak returns home
Published Saturday, February 22, 2020 10:42PM EST Last Updated Sunday, February 23, 2020 10:23AM EST
MONTREAL -- A Montreal family who were stuck in China for weeks were able to return home on Friday.
The family had gone to China to visit family more than a month ago and on Saturday, after being forced to stay in that country because of the coronavirus outbreak, Neo Zhang said they were relived to be back home.
“I feel great, nothing feels better than home,” he said. “This morning I went for a walk just said hello to everything I left behind.”
Zhang, his wife Megan Millward and their children were among the passengers flown out of Wuhan province by the Canadian government on Feb. 7. They were then held under quarantine for two weeks at a military base in Trenton, ON. On Friday, they made the drive home with a clean bill of health.
“Everyone was professional and courteous but also really gentle with us,” said Millward.
The family had originally arrived in Shanghai on Jan. 18, timing their trip to coincide with Chinese New Year but word of the outbreak began spreading just days into their trip. The entire province of Wuhan was soon placed under a lockdown. Roadblocks prevented the couple from driving back to Shanghai.
“We saw the news that all the hospitals were full,” said Zhang.
“We briefly considered doing the ‘Sound of Music’ thing, climb every mountain and walking out but you can’t really do that with kids,” added Millward.
As the two waited for word on how they’d return to Canada they said it was unclear if Zhang would be forced to stay behind due to his status as a permanent resident.
“When my husband got his boarding pass, that was the moment I was like ‘Okay, everything is going to be fine,’” said Millward.
On the military base the family had their own room, received checkups twice daily and had access to wifi and television. The kids were allowed to play outside and Millward said the family found ways to pass the time.
“We also did pillow fights, we built blanket forts,” she said.
They also received support from friends and family.
“We keep receiving text messages or calls saying ‘Are you guys okay?’” said Zhang.
With their return home, the pair said they’re looking forward to life going back to normal.
“We want to say hello to our cats, have a long bath,” said Zhang.
Still, they said they remain worried for those who remain at risk to the virus, which has claimed more than 2,000 lives in China.
“I don’t know if there’s anything we can do but if there’s some way we can pay it forward we’re going to try,” said Millward.