Hundreds flock to Victoria’s Chinatown for Lunar New Year celebrations

While at least one Lunar New Year event was cancelled in the Lower Mainland due to fears of coronavirus, some say Victoria’s crowd was even bigger than last year.

Hundreds of people filled the streets around Victoria’s Chinatown Sunday to celebrate while a lion dance weaved through the area.

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Lion dance instructor Justin Lee, who has been involved with the celebrations for 26 years, said the event was not affected by coronavirus fears.

“It seems like it’s growing every year. More and more people are coming out to celebrate,” he said amid the crackle of fireworks and the beating of drums.

Lee is an instructor with the Wong Sheung Kung Fu Club, which put on the two-hour lion dance and a kung fu performance. More than 75 people from the club participated Sunday either as dancers or in other roles, like traffic control.

Unlike Lee, the majority of the team is not Chinese.

“I love it how other cultures are willing to learn our culture,” he said.

Walter Lam, a volunteer with the Chinese Community Services Centre, also said the crowd appeared larger than at last year’s event.

Lam was one of several volunteers running the centre’s booth, where visitors could receive handwritten wishes for health, fortune and happiness in the coming year by donation.

The Live in Langley Chinese Association cancelled its Lunar New Year gala, which was also sponsored by the Township of Langley.

Fears have risen after authorities announced Saturday that a patient had been diagnosed with Canada's first case of coronavirus after travelling to Toronto from Wuhan, China.

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Sunday that the risk of infection is low and Canadians should not be alarmed about contracting the virus in a casual setting.

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.

— With files from the Canadian Press

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