Sheffield's Chinese community 'panicking' over the coronavirus
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Attendance at last night’s Chinese New Year celebrations at Sheffield City Hall was down from 2,000 to 1,500, with the number of Chinese falling from 1,000 to about 300, according to organiser Jerry Cheung.
Events in Cambridge and Birmingham were cancelled, he added.
More than 100 people have died in China, with confirmed infections up to more than 4,500. Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the outbreak, is on lockdown.
Mr Cheung said: “The Chinese community in the UK is panicking, I know a lot of events in other parts of the country have been cancelled.
“I know for a fact that there’s not been anyone who is Chinese who has come back to Sheffield from Wuhan and those who visited won’t be allowed to come back due to the lockdown.
“Sheffield is relatively sheltered - but it is a deadly disease and we need to be careful.”
Public spaces at Mr Cheung’s New Era development on Bramall Lane, which has flats popular with Chinese students, had been sprayed and disinfected, he added.
“We want the students to see we are not complacent, we want to give them confidence. But overall I think Sheffield is low risk at the moment.
“Let’s hope the authorities get a handle on this, let’s hope it doesn’t get as bad as SARS.”
In 2003, an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome infected more than 8,000 people and killed almost 800.
“I remember it well, I was scared myself. I think the Chinese government learned a lesson from SARS and this time they’re making a very determined effort to contain it.
“My message is that panicking is not going to help anyone, it’s only going to make things worse. The last thing we want is people spreading unfounded rumours. Remember, there has been no confirmed case in the UK.”
Hong Kong has announced plans to slash cross-border travel between the city and mainland China as the new coronavirus continues to spread.
High-speed trains and ferries that cross the border will be suspended from Thursday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced. She wore a face mask.