Lunar New Year parade takes place amid coronavirus concerns
VANCOUVER -- Hundreds turned out for annual Lunar New Year parade in Vancouver's Chinatown Sunday, many wearing masks out of concern about the novel coronavirus that has caused dozens of deaths and prompted the lockdown of several cities in central China.
“I’m always concerned about viruses, especially when there’s a lot of people from out of town,” said one woman visiting from Seattle.
Canadian health officials provided an update early Sunday, saying despite one confirmed case in Ontario, for Canadians, the risk of contracting the virus is still low.
“Canadian hospitals have an incredibly strong infection prevention and control system and procedures in place to manage situations like this,” said Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
The unidentified patient is a man in his 50s, who flew into Toronto’s Pearson International airport Wednesday from Guangzhou, China. Health officials say he was showing symptoms and may have been contagious. They are now notifying anyone who may be at risk.
“We are looking at a two-metre radius,” explained Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam. “Looking at the plane and seating plan and where the patient was seated in order to trace the people, passengers surrounding that.”
Canadian officials say they expect – and are ready for – more cases in the coming weeks.
Staff at the University of British Columbia are watching developments closely. Director of university affairs Matthew Ramsey told CTV News Vancouver the university is in contact with students, staff and faculty at B.C. campuses and abroad.
“We haven’t had any reported illnesses among students, staff or faculty either here or abroad at this time,” he said.
Meanwhile, B.C. residents are taking their own precautions. Pharmacies across Metro Vancouver are reporting they’ve run out of surgical masks. And Ackroyd Pharmacy in Richmond told CTV News it has a wait list of more than 100 people.
Some, hoping to cash in, are even posting ads on Craigslist selling brand new boxes of masks for $60.
The United states is chartering a jet to get diplomats, their families and American citizens out of Wuhan right now. Canada’s health minister said there are no plans to follow suit, but travel advisories to the region have been updated.