‘I would not go’ to China says B.C. traveller concerned about coronavirus

Alice Li said she goes to China every other year but would scrap any travel plans

A woman who has regularly visited China from her home in Delta, B.C., says she would not travel there over concerns about a new coronavirus that is spreading beyond the city that officials have closed to try to contain the mysterious illness.

Alice Li said she goes to China every other year but would scrap any travel plans after at least 26 deaths and more than 800 infections were linked to the virus that has spread to five other countries.

“I would not go, I would cancel,” she said. “You never know how it’s passed on.”

Li, who moved from China about 40 years ago, said the Chinese-Canadian community in British Columbia is concerned about developments in the virus that originated in a market in Wuhan, where the population of 11 million has been quarantined.

A similar lockdown has occurred in at least nine other Chinese cities, affecting about 33 million people.

Queenie Choo, who lives in Richmond, said she wouldn’t travel to China for upcoming lunar new year festivities but is undecided on whether to cancel a business trip scheduled for next month.

Choo, CEO of SUCCESS, a community service group for newcomers to Canada, said she had planned to visit Beijing and Guangzhou in February but getting between those cities requires travel by plane and crowded trains, which could increase the risk of infection.

ALSO READ: Saskatchewan lab joins global effort to develop coronavirus vaccine

The virus that’s causing respiratory infections with symptoms similar to influenza has also been detected in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the United States, where one case was reported in a suburban Seattle man who became ill after returning from Wuhan.

The World Health Organization decided Thursday not to declare the outbreak a global health emergency for now.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu has said the risk of contracting the coronavirus is low in Canada, where no cases have been reported though five or six people were under observation.

For now, Choo said the Chinese-Canadian community is hoping officials in Canada, where another coronavirus killed 44 people in 2003, take adequate precautions to prevent any outbreak of the virus.

“We are very cautiously guarded, and we want to make sure there’s no infection spread in B.C., where we live, and in Canada, so we rely on the health-care system to do their vigilance and monitoring at the airport, and surveillance,” Choo said.

Fears about getting the virus, believed to have been transmitted from wild animals sold at a Wuhan market before it spread from person to person, have grown to the point that a local a business has sold out of masks it typically sells for construction.

John Elzinga, manager of KMS Tools in Langley, said four locations in the Vancouver area sold several hundred boxes containing 20 masks each since Wednesday and a rush shipment of 960 boxes has been ordered.

“A lady told me you can’t buy these in China. She’s sending them home. They’re sending them to family and friends overseas, many of them are,” Elzinga said, adding the N95 mask protects against dust and people believe it will keep them from getting ill.

“We sell them commercially in large quantities but not like this. This is something completely different,” he said.

“We’re being blown away.”

Dr. Stephen Hoption Cann, an epidemiologist at the school of population and public health at the University of British Columbia, said masks can provide some protection from droplets when someone sneezes or coughs and the requirement for residents to wear a mask in public in several Chinese cities means many of them are needed.

“The important thing is just keeping your hands away from your face, out of your eyes, ears, nose and mouth. If the mask on your face is preventing you from doing that that’s a good thing,” he said.

A lot of coronaviruses circulate every year and cause mild colds, but little is known about the new strain of coronavirus so taking measures such as washing hands and being aware of touching doors, for example, is important because viruses can live on surfaces for 24 hours, he said.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New activity centre will mean more programs for Mission seniors

Construction of the new complex should be completed by March of 2021

TRAFFIC: VIDEO: Truck crash halts Highway 1 traffic in Langley

Left lane blocked after truck crashes into median by 264th Street

Aspiring entrepreneurs invited to pitch ideas at Dragons’ Den auditions

Abbotsford and Vancouver the only Lower Mainland try-out locations

Mission firefighters raise $4,776 for BC Lung Association

19th annual Climb the Wall event took place in Vancouver last week

Fraser Valley Inn and nearby property put up for sale for $8.9 million

With development proposal still before city hall, owners seek to sell downtown Abbotsford landmark

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Dragon boating changes lives for Spirit Abreast paddlers

The Cultus Lake based team is looking to fill a boat with breast cancer survivors and supporters.

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Hundreds of B.C. firefighters ‘climb the wall’ for BC Lung Association

The charity fundraiser saw participants climbing up 48 storeys

Most Read