VANCOUVER -- A long-running International Women's Day event in Vancouver is being held virtually because of the risk of spreading COVID-19.

CARE Canada announced its eighth annual Walk In Her Shoes event, which was scheduled to be held Sunday, March 8, will not go ahead as planned. Normally, the fundraising event includes a walk of 10,000 steps to support women and girls around the world to lift themselves out of poverty. This year, 500 people were expected to take part in the event.

Instead, organizers are encouraging people to make a donation online, and are asking participants to walk 10,000 steps in their local neighbourhoods instead of gathering in downtown Vancouver. An event following the walk at Creekside Community Centre has also been cancelled.

The decision follows advice from B.C.'s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. During a press conference on March 7, Henry asked B.C. residents to consider cancelling in-person gatherings, especially if elderly people will be present. She suggested holding virtual gatherings instead.

Danielle Semple, acting director of development for CARE Canada, said the organization heard that warning and decided to "put everyone's health first" by modifying their event.

On March 7, Henry announced six more cases of the novel coronavirus in B.C., bringing the total to 27 cases. In a concerning development, two of those cases were elderly residents of a long-term care home in North Vancouver.