Thousands celebrate Chinese New Year across UK despite coronavirus fears

26 January 2020, 15:47 | Updated: 26 January 2020, 15:54

Thousands celebrated Chinese New Year in central London
Thousands celebrated Chinese New Year in central London. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Thousands of revellers have been celebrating Chinese New Year across the UK despite fears over the coronavirus outbreak.

Tourists and locals in cities up and down the country have been welcoming the Year of the Rat, despite fears over the coronavirus which has spread to over 2,000 people.

But coronavirus worries did not dampen festivities, as a 50-foot golden dragon and a bagpipe procession travelled from Charing Cross to Chinatown, where hundreds of red lanterns lined the streets.

However, some are opting to wear face masks to protect themselves from potential infection.

Chinese student Siyan Li, from Shandong, was wearing a face mask as she celebrated in London's Chinatown because she was "afraid" of the virus.

The 22-year-old Nottingham University student said: "China has advised everyone to stay at home and not come out. I'm afraid.

"I don't know if there are many people with this kind of fear, but I think this (the mask) is a good way to protect myself."

People celebrated in Trafalgar Square
People celebrated in Trafalgar Square. Picture: PA Images

Lily Ferreira and Katerina Jelinkova, two volunteers helping manage the festivities in London, said they were worried about the effect of the virus on their performers from China.

Miss Jelinkova, 22, from Czech Republic, said she would wear a mask in central London anyway because of air pollution.

Thousands celebrated Chinese New Year in London
Thousands celebrated Chinese New Year in London. Picture: PA Images

Mr Rowell, 49, who was celebrating with his wife and son, said: "We lived through a few of those things in Asia, we had Sars when we were there and I always think it looks worse on the news.

"I'm sure it's serious, but the numbers (of those infected) are actually quite low at the moment, so I wasn't really worried about being around Chinese people or anything like that.

"We had breakfast in a Chinese dim sum place this morning, it was packed, people were waiting for tables, there was no sense of people staying away."

Many people celebrating chose not to wear masks amid fears over the coronavirus
Many people celebrating chose not to wear masks amid fears over the coronavirus. Picture: PA Images

He added he has "faith in the Chinese government" because they "learned their lesson" after Sars, which killed 774 people in 17 countries.

Elaine Lui, a Newcastle University media student from south-east China, also said she was confident precautions in China would help to tackle the virus.

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