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COVID-19, the current strain of coronavirus, and the fears surrounding it have caused a lot of unwarranted discrimination amongst Chinese and Asian people as a whole.
This virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sparked much worry in people from all over the world. Unfortunately, this anxiety has sparked harassment amongst Asian communities worldwide, Chinese communities especially.
Around the world, numerous amounts of Chinese restaurants and shops are being vandalized and receiving far less traffic than usual. On a larger scale, Chinese stocks have plummeted over the past month. All of this has occurred as a result of COVID-19 and the ignorance surrounding it.
In schools, Chinese students and students of Asian descent all together are being unfairly bullied, and this bullying does not stop on school grounds. Online, people are making discriminatory jokes as a coping mechanism for all the anxiety surrounding the situation.
First, no one is going to get sick from eating food or buying products from China either online or in stores. Bullying, both online and in person is not going to keep anyone from becoming sick.
All coronaviruses, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and COVID-19 are respiratory viruses spread through air particles. When someone sneezes without covering their mouth and nose, those particles go directly into the air, getting into people’s eyes, nose or mouth. This virus can also be spread when someone touches a surface the virus has touched that has not been cleaned, and then promptly touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, the virus is weakened by heat. The chances of becoming ill from eating food in the context of this virus are minimal to none. Any food that is properly handled and cooked should be perfectly safe to eat.
The same works for products produced by China that are bought online or in stores. According to WHO, the virus does not travel well on anything that is not a human being, and will likely be dead before it reaches its destination. For those still concerned, however, any products can be cleaned with disinfectant wipes or soap and hot water.
The online response is also over-exaggerated. Now, there is no problem with poking fun at the situation itself. It’s perfectly okay to be scared, but there is no reason to bring down an entire community of people for it.
Right now, on a global scale, people should be more concerned about the flu. It has killed more people than COVID-19 in this year alone. Though COVID-19 killing over 3,000 people is concerning, the flu has killed 14,000 in the 2019-2020 season.
In regards to the virus itself, the best thing to do for the time being is to practice normal health procedures, such as hand washing and sneezing into an elbow instead of into the open air. Staying home if sick also helps. People should always go to the doctor if troubling symptoms arise, but unless someone has traveled to China, South Korea, Italy or Iran in the past few weeks or so, there is likely nothing to be concerned about. No one should purposely avoid places that receive a lot of traffic from Asian people or that sell Asian products.
Concerns people have on contracting the virus are being blown out of proportion. People who have or are suspected of having contact with COVID-19 are quarantined for up to 14 days. Screenings are being done at major airports to check for fever in people coming in from Wuhan.
The death toll is increasing steadily, and that can be concerning, but a majority of the deaths have occurred from the elderly or those who have compromised immune systems, including asthma and diabetes, among other things. Anyone with a healthy immune system is most likely going to be fine, even if they do contract the virus.
Overall, this discrimination against Chinese and Asian people is completely unwarranted. No one is immune and doing and saying racist things are not going to solve anything. Worrying about this is understandable, as it is a virus science and medicine don’t understand fully, but xenophobic comments are not helping. The CDC and WHO are continuing research on the virus and are trying to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.
Until a vaccine is put on the market, people must remain calm, be patient and practice healthy hygiene.