Coronavirus: Bay Area school trip, Lunar New Year events canceled due to potentially deadly virus

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Coronavirus outbreak is prompting local officials to take safety precautions after the rapid spread of the virus has caused concern on a global scale.

The U.S. State Department issued a 'do not travel' advisory to China.

RELATED: US State Department issues 'do not travel' warning to China as coronavirus spreads

School officials at the Chinese Immersion school, Alice Fong Yu Alternative in San Francisco's Sunset District, made the decision to cancel the eighth graders' trip to China.

Raelynn Hickey's son is an eighth grader and she says they're all heartbroken.

"We've been preparing for this for nine years, we're a Chinese immersion school. This is like the carrot for all these kids -- to go to China. Once in a lifetime opportunity and so we're all heartbroken," Hickey said.

The trip is two weeks long and the students stay with a host family for five days.

Barry Wong is a volunteer for the school and says this trip is a culmination of their nine years of learning Chinese. He says it's a huge disappointment but safety is their main concern.

"The last time we cancelled due to the SARS in 2003, but we were able to include the graduates in subsequent years for the experience," Wong said.

Steven Ng has twin daughters in the eighth grade, Jessica and Samantha. Ng says the trip cancellation is shocking but it's the right call.

"It's their safety and that's all we care about," Ng said.

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The World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China as a global health emergency after killing hundreds in China and sickening thousands across the world.

Hetty Zhu landed from an 11 hour flight from Shanghai, China at SFO Thursday evening. She's says China is doing what it can to take action against the growing outbreak of the Coronavirus.

"The government did a lot to control the situation so I feel like it's under control. I feel like it's similar to the flu, maybe worse than the flu- but not that bad when you compare the death toll," Zhu said.

At San Francisco City Hall, city leaders gathered for a Lunar New Year reception and the unveiling of the 'Year of the Rat' Forever stamp.

Norman Yee, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, said he feels for those in China that are unable to celebrate during this time.

"A lot of these people can't even celebrate the Lunar New Year. I mean we're getting away with it here. I'm just hoping there's going to be some quick resolution for the virus," Yee said.

This Saturday Yee is hosting a Lunar New Year parade off Ocean Avenue, by the Whole Foods. His event, and San Francisco's Chinese New Year Parade on February 8th are still happening regardless of Coronavirus concerns.

The 2020 Palo Alto Chinese New Year Fair scheduled for February 16th is canceled, as well as the Avenidas Chinese Community Center's Lunar New Year Celebration, scheduled for today, Jan. 30.
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