Posted By Emily Liang
As the death toll for the pneumonia-like coronavirus reaches 908 (NY Times), increased cautionary actions have been taken by both the government and individual civilians. According to a Chinese research on the coronavirus, the infection can be “transmitted by saliva, urine, stool… [and] respiratory droplets.” Moreover, those who do get infected are unaware of their compromised health because the virus generally takes three days for symptoms to finally appear. In hopes of quickly developing a cure for the coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) experts are collaborating with Chinese medical professionals.
Due to the global impacts of this easily-transmitted coronavirus, it is justifiable for people to feel worried and anxious. But this terror has simply translated into anti-Chinese sentiments throughout the media. Many have racialized the coronavirus as a Chinese disease, further supporting their claims of superiority over China. People’s lives are at stake, yet the coronavirus has fueled racist Asian jokes and increased microaggressions. It is important to note that those who are able to make hefty assumptions and jokes about this serious issue sit in a place of privilege. The reality is that Chinese natives are located in the epi-center of the outbreak, making them more prone to being affected. Shortages in doctors, health facilities, and face masks exacerbate the situation, and the genuine fear that the Chinese feel can never be empathized with unless you are there.
Nevertheless, the most effective way to cope with those feelings is not through xenophobic rhetoric, but through basic precautionary measures. According to WHO, people should wash their hands frequently, practice proper respiratory hygiene (such as sneezing into your elbow), and maintain a healthy distance from others. Let us act on our feelings of worry without the expense of other communities.