Locals celebrating Lunar New Year concerned about deadly virus outbreak in China

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The deadly coronavirus is continuing to spread rapidly.

Roughly 1,400 people have contracted the virus in 11 countries, including the U.S., and the death toll in China has risen to 41.

China’s President Xi Jinping is calling the novel coronavirus a “grave situation.”

As Clevelanders came together to celebrate the lunar new year, the outbreak is impacting festivities in China and several states in the U.S.

Cultural performances, martial arts and food steeped in tradition drew locals to “Asia Plaza” on the east side to observe the Lunar New Year.

“It’s a long-time history. We’re still keeping the culture and you know you see the Chinese dancing, you see all the different people, they’re together,” said the owner of the Erie Chinese Journal, Ying Pu.

Centered around family, Pu said many people go see relatives and cook big meals.

“In China, we do 15 days of celebrating from New Year Eve until the fifteenth day,” she explained.

But as millions travel to the country for the holidays, increased travel restrictions have been put in place to try and stop the fast-spreading Novel Coronavirus. Passengers are being screened at airports around the globe for signs of the virus.

Several cities including Beijing and Hong Kong are reportedly cancelling or limiting celebrations for the Lunar New Year.

“This is a tragedy, a tragedy to happen. But for the people, life with a holiday, you know life is more important than a holiday,” said Pu.

The virus has killed dozens and two cases have been confirmed in the United States while the CDC is monitoring more.

The City of Wuhan, where the outbreak began at a seafood market, and several surrounding cities are on lockdown.

Pu has family in Shanhai.

“I call my mother a couple of days, like every day for this,” she said.

While concerned, she isn’t worried, at least not yet.

“We really don`t know what`s going to happen tomorrow so we really need to live for today and right now,” she said.

Both Australia and Malaysia reported their first cases Saturday. There is no known vaccine for this novel virus.

More stories on the coronavirus here. 

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