The novel coronavirus, or nCoV, is spreading at a fast pace around the world with the number of infected people reaching tens of thousands at the moment. There is a minimum of three (or more) infected in many populous countries. Along with the spread of the nCoV is the spread of misinformation about the virus, how it is transmitted, and how to avoid it. The nCoV first appeared in Wuhan, which is located at the Hubei province of China, quickly affecting the nearby cities. Not soon after, other countries have confirmed nCoV cases as well. These patients have recently traveled to China, specifically from Wuhan, as confirmed by their travel history. This then led to their compromised wellbeing and the traces of the nCoV in their system. Recent news about the nCoV has sparked panic and anxiety among people, and that is unavoidable in the current situation. However, many people took advantage of this news to promote xenophobia and racism towards a certain race - specifically, the Asian race.
Misinformation about the nCoV is directly affecting people’s mindset, and there is now a very thin line between being health conscious and being a racist.
Many people have come forward to share their stories of discrimination and experiences with xenophobia. Ever since the rise of the nCoV, not only Chinese but many Asians around the world have felt people avoid them in public. This is because many people are being led to believe that the novel coronavirus is pre-existing in every Asian or they have a thought in their head that every Asian might have come from China. It is troubling and dangerous misinformation that is plaguing society, and it might even be more threatening than the nCoV itself.
Stories like Koreans being eyed from head to toe by simply having similar physical features with that of Chinese nationals and even tourists of any race are being avoided simply because they all obviously boarded a plane, and might have caught the nCoV from somewhere are heard everywhere. This is alarming because for one, not all Chinese nationals are sick. We need to keep in mind that the Chinese authorities are trying to contain the virus - closing bridges and roads to prevent people from Wuhan reaching the mainland - therefore, it is certain that not all Chinese people are sick.
In this time of panic and distress, people can’t afford to be ill-informed. Proper information is essential in order to be prepared and fight off nCoV. Health experts are advising people to be alert but not anxious. Though there is little information gathered about the spread of nCoV, medical research is moving quickly to develop vaccines and treatments for it. Right at this moment, scientists are working round the clock to test the safety and efficiency of Remdesivir - a potential medicine against nCoV. For now, people should rely on authorized health organizations, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), for information on how to prevent being infected by nCoV.
It is essential to avoid believing just any post or tweet made online about the nCoV, especially if it promotes hate towards a certain race. Everyone is vulnerable towards the virus and there is no specific race to blame for it. What most people can do for now is be well-informed and smart about their health choices as the wait continues for progress within the medical field on how to combat the virus altogether.
With everything that has happened across the world in January, the first thing that we should not condone is hatred towards each other.