Misinformation about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is hurting Chinese businesses in Vancouver. Top Canadian officials had a meeting in the city's Chinatown on Monday, February 17 to discuss how COVID-19 has affected Vancouver's local businesses. At the meeting, local Chinese entrepreneurs said COVID-19 fears led up to 70% drops in their businesses. Mayor Kennedy Stewart assured that Vancouver's Chinese food is safe, and that the anxiety around COVID-19 shouldn't affect your take-out. 

Stewart met with B.C. Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu. They sat with local Chinese business owners in Chinatown to talk misinformation.

Even though there are five confirmed cases within B.C., Chinese businesses have reported hitting a major slump in traffic. The Canadian ministers believe it's due to "fear and misinformation" over COVID-19.

Despite the virus dominating headlines, Stewart says you can keep eating your spring rolls.

"We're encouraging people to continue on with their regular business. Enjoy all the great food and other services that are offered here in Chinatown and other Chinese communities," Stewart announced during the press conference.

"We've heard some restaurants are losing 50, 60, 70% of business," said Stewart, "which is very, very concerning to us because most of it is based on misinformation."

The Public Health Association of Canada (PHAC) is ranking the risk of COVID-19 as low to Canadians. Stewart agrees.

"At this stage, we're considering everything safe and we don't want these businesses hurt," he added.

Hajdu explained that not all misinformation is due to plain ignorance. Sometimes, she said, there are other motives.

"People sometimes drive fear because they like to. Sometimes they drive fear because it might result in a profit," she clarified. "You can sell more masks, for example, if you create more fear."

Hajdu added that Canadians should stick to "sources where there is credible information."

In Vancouver, stores have sold out of face masks even in the early days of the outbreak.

It's not just restaurants that were affected; panic over COVID-19 has led major Lunar New Year celebrations in Vancouver to be cancelled.

Other subjects touched on during the press conference was the official confirmation of the fifth case of coronavirus within B.C.

Hajdu also gave an estimation of when the Canadians quarantined aboard a cruise ship near Japan could come home, saying that it could happen later this week.

Dix said he's glad the Chinese Canadian community has been so supportive of each other during this time.

"These are extraordinary gifts," he said of the support within the community. "These moments allow not just to show the worst in society but the best."

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