British Columbia

Canadians celebrate Lunar New Year despite concerns over coronavirus

At least one event in the Lower Mainland has been cancelled over fears of coronavirus.

At least one event in the Lower Mainland has been cancelled over fears of coronavirus

Dancers perform a dragon dance during the Chinese New Year Parade, in Vancouver, on Sunday January 26, 2020. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Lunar New Year celebrations lit up Vancouver's Chinatown with firecrackers and colourful lion dancers on Sunday, though at least one other event in the Lower Mainland was cancelled over fears of the new coronavirus.

The Live in Langley Chinese Association cancelled its gala, which was also sponsored by the Township of Langley, as fears rose after authorities detected Canada's first case of coronavirus on Saturday in a patient who had travelled to Toronto from Wuhan, China.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Sunday that the risk of infection is low and Canadians should not worry about contracting the virus in a casual setting, urging people to take normal precautions but otherwise continue their lives.

Vancouver's Spring Festival Parade, said to be one of the largest Lunar New Year celebrations in North America, carried on.⁠⠀

Vancouver resident Jason Ng attended the Lunar New Year celebrations with his wife, father and three-year-old son to watch his other five-year-old son dance in the parade.

"It was something kind of in the back of our heads,'' Ng said of the virus. "It wasn't a huge concern.''

An elderly woman wears a facemask while watching the Chinese New Year Parade, in Vancouver, on Sunday January 26, 2020. (Darry Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Another spectator, Ethan Donnelly, said he works at the University of British Columbia and a coworker who is from China skipped this year's celebrations for fear of the virus.

"We want to celebrate, but better safe than sorry,'' he said, gesturing to the mask he wore during the parade.

Though some donned the surgical masks at the event, experts advise against them, saying the ones widely available at drug stores aren't particularly effective and noting that repeatedly adjusting them with unwashed hands can actually exacerbate risk of infection.

Ella Lewis-Vass, who also works and studies at the university, said she believed those who were most concerned about contracting the virus likely stayed home.

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China, but it remains to be seen whether it's as dangerous as the common flu, which kills 3,500 people every year in Canada alone.

A boy holds part of a dragon dance costume while waiting to participate in the Chinese New Year Parade, in Vancouver, on Sunday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
George Leung waits to lead the Chinese New Year Parade through Chinatown, in Vancouver. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

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