MONTREAL -- A Montreal family visiting China has been forced to extend their stay because of the coronavirus and fear that one of them will be forced to stay behind indefinitely.

Megan Millward said she and her husband didn’t realize rumours about the virus would turn into an international health emergency. The pair and their two children were visiting in-laws during Chinese New Year.

“It’s common knowledge now that there had been a bit of a cover-up of what was really going on,” said Millward. “We didn’t know that it was a somewhat major new, unknown virus when we came here.”

The family was due to arrive at Trudeau Airport on Sunday but their flight from Shanghai was cancelled. While Global Affairs Canada is working on chartering a plane out of the city, only those with a Canadian passport will be allowed onboard.

"We have been informed that only Canadian Citizens who have entered China with a Canadian passport will be allowed to board the plane," read a statement from Global Affairs spokesperson Sylvain Leclerc. "We try to keep families together whenever possible, and we have raised this with the Government of China. We are providing consular advice and assistance to permanent residents to the extent possible in the local context."

Millward’s husband, Lie Zhang, is a Chinese national and Millward said they may be forced to leave him behind.

“It’s pretty terrible, obviously,” she said. “Canada does say it values keeping families together and I have heard they’re working on it. I hope in coming days there will be some news that the policy is being changed.”

Millward said her family is facing additional challenges in getting to the Wuhan airport from the village they’re currently staying in. Wuhan has been barricaded with roadblocks to prevent the spread of the virus. The family has shown no signs of infection but the incubation period is up to 14 days after contact.

“We’re 100 per cent willing to be quarantined for as long as it takes in as remote a location as the government decides is appropriate,” said Millward. “If there is no quarantine, we will do our own quarantine at home.”