Fort St. John Trade Show postponed due to coronavirus concerns

The Fort St. John Trade Show has been postponed amid in the growing public health concerns about the coronavirus COVID-19.

The news comes as provincial health officials recommended Thursday that organizers cancel any events for 250 or more people, and that people avoid all non-essential travel outside Canada.

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"We apologize for the disruption, but look forward to announcing a new date for the trade show following this health crisis that has gripped the world," wrote Amy Titley in an update Thursday afternoon. 

"We understand the inconvenience this may cause and it is not something that we wanted to do, however we want to be responsible for the communities that we serve."

The trade show, in its 48th year, was scheduled April 3 to 5. Another date is being arranged for the fall, Titley said.

The province reported seven new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the total in B.C. to 53. 

Health officials say the risk of transmission remains low. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said anyone who chooses to travel outside of Canada will be required to stay away from work or school for 14 days upon their return.

"While it hasn't changed a lot here in B.C., the risk has increased all around us, I would say, and our understanding of the situation has also changed," she said.

Henry told a news conference in Victoria that the situation is "too risky" at the moment, while adding she has "full confidence" the spread of the coronavirus will come under control.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix also called for organizers to cancel events for 250 people or more, but held off on extending the cancellation to schools, noting that abrupt school closures can cause societal disruption and economic impacts.

Officials will consult during the spring break to determine appropriate policies and procedures, Dix said.

"These are measures for now, they're not forever," Henry said. "These are things that we think are incredibly important for all of us in society to think about ways to stop the spread."

Officials made the announcements as the province recorded seven new cases of COVID-19. Henry said six people have fully recovered.

Three of the new cases were identified at a retirement home in West Vancouver, marking the spread of the novel coronavirus to a second care home in British Columbia.

There are no reported cases yet in northern B.C.

This is a developing story. 

— with a report from The Canadian Press

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