We are two months into the new decade and unless you’ve been living under a rock, the coronavirus is the second coming of the Swine Flu: Panic incarnate. And because the virus originated from China, the unfortunate and incorrect assumption many have made is that the Chinese Canadian population needs to be boycotted and cut off from society. This xenophobia is evident through the significant decrease in business among Chinese restaurants.
This effort to prevent infection is excessive and may be due in large part to a misunderstanding of the virus itself. As a diabetic, I can say that it is something akin to diabetes in terms of public understanding: the public knows of it, and a few things about it, but only to a point where truths become distorted due to a lack of solid understanding.
So, what is the coronavirus, and why should our first step be to calm down about the disease and cut Chinese Canadians some slack?
The coronavirus we are currently panicking over is actually a new strain called COVID-19, part of a larger family of coronaviruses. Symptoms start with coughing, shortness of breath, and fever, and can unfortunately progress to pneumonia and multi-organ failure.
It’s scary, true, but here is where we need to keep calm before giving into irrational panic and extreme measures.
At the present moment, Canada has had a very low incidence of COVID-19. This has been due to a great effort by the government in isolating flights from coronavirus hotspots and keeping passengers under quarantine for about two to three weeks. This helps isolate any victims of the virus and allows certainty that all passengers released from quarantine do not have the virus.
These periods of isolation are logical and prompted by rational thinking rather than the xenophobia many Chinese-Canadians are facing.
Some may argue against these claims of xenophobia. However, it is evident due to the significant decrease in business over the past few weeks amongst Chinese restaurants.
According to Mississauga News, “Mississauga Chinese Business Association (MCBA) president Winnie Fung said that Chinese restaurants in the city have seen an average 25 to 50 per cent drop in revenue.”
It is obvious that this is due to fear and multiple misconceptions about the virus.
“We can’t let fears and misconceptions about coronavirus affect local business,” tweeted Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie after publicly touring some Chinese restaurants throughout the city.
The coronavirus is infectious and can be fatal, yes. But before we hate on the Chinese folk of our community, we must make sense of the facts and take control of our fears. The coronavirus is not the next Spanish Flu as some may make it out to be. Chinese-Canadians should not be unjustly discriminated against.
Should we take precautions in a time of viral infections? Certainly. But should we keep precautions within reason and not within racial discrimination? Very much so!