VANCOUVER -- Some Metro Vancouver businesses expressed serious concern to three levels of government Monday, as they continue seeing a major drop in business due to fear and misinformation around the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Alex Wang, who runs Peninsula Seafood Restaurant at Oakridge Centre, was among those meeting with federal health minister Patty Hajdu, provincial health minister Adrian Dix and Kennedy Stewart, Vancouver's mayor, on Monday in Chinatown to speak about some of the issues facing the Chinese community.

“They are scared of the people who sit beside them,” Wang said. “At least 70 per cent drop down in business.”

And Wang’s restaurant is not alone, according to the mayor.

“We have heard some restaurants are losing 50, 60, 70 per cent of business, which is very concerning to us ,” Stewart told reporters. “Most of it is based on misinformation.”

Queenie Choo, the CEO of SUCCESS BC, which helps new immigrants, also took part in Monday’s meeting. 

“Understanding some of the issue that’s really about racializing the disease as well we geographic placing of the disease, which is uncalled for,” Choo said. “Those issues have been percolating in the community and we want to make sure we are consistently addressing the issue as a country and as a community.” 

Choo said some of the misinformation includes fears about how the disease spreads.

“People don’t want to even go anywhere, they are literally shutting themselves in their house,” she said. “I think going to restaurants, public events, as long as you apply common sense for personal hygiene and seek treatment if you’re unwell , that’s the most key message we want to pass on to our community.” 

Hajdu acknowledged the virus and misinformation has been difficult for some Chinese-Canadians and businesses.

“Whether it be at the business level, where people are seeing declined attendance at their restaurants, or sales in their particular organization. Or whether it be at the interpersonal level where people are feeling extremely stigmatized in the community,” Hajdu said. 

Dix says the province is working on communicating correct, timely, and factual information about the virus, including any new cases in the province.

“Ensuring we have a common understanding of information. That we fight fear, unnecessary fear, which is developed by effectively bad information. Speculation that’s not based in reality,” Dix said.

There are currently five cases of COVID-19 in B.C., with the majority in Metro Vancouver, where the patients remain in isolation with regular checks by medical teams.