Local Chinese cultural organization cancels Chinese New Year event over coronavirus concerns

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ST. LOUIS – The Chinese Education and Cultural Center of St. Louis has canceled its annual celebration of the Chinese New Year. Organizers felt it was better to cancel then be sorry.

“It was not easy but there was no known cases at that point and we didn’t want to take the risk, especially for our most vulnerable,” said Min Liu, community outreach for St. Louis Modern Chinese School.

Liu said they also canceled their weekend school as a safety precaution.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 Chinese people are in the St. Louis area, Liu said. The cultural center is connected with most of them but it’s impossible to know everything about each person.

“We're clearly monitoring folks who recently traveled to that part of the country and so far, we seem to be in the clear,” she said.

Liu's parents live in Hunan, south of Wuhan where the virus originated. She said there was one confirmed case in her parents’ apartment building, but she said it appears this won’t be as bad as the SARS virus that hit years ago.

“I personally am relieved that the government finally took things into control and enforced the transportation ban,” she said. “It sounds like it’s in much better shape to fight the next phase.”

While Liu said Chinese Education and Cultural Center of St. Louis canceled its celebration, they didn’t do it at the cost of their local Chinese restaurants and businesses and hope people understand it’s safe to go these places, despite their own choice.

“We knew a few cases, that we knew of, that traveled from Wuhan to St. Louis, although we were told for sure that they didn’t have any symptoms,” Liu said.

Meanwhile, the organization is holding a fundraising campaign to send to China to buy needed medical supplies. You can donate at slmcs.org.

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