Coronavirus and discrimination – an outbreak of xenophobia

By Jeff Kong



As the world grapples with the unprecedented challenge of the new coronavirus, first detected in December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, tens of millions of ethnic Chinese living outside China and Taiwan are particularly uneasy.

Despite the coronavirus spreading to every continent except Antarctica, there has been a steady increase in anecdotal evidence that fear of the virus is generating racial phobia against them.

The virus has so far infected more than 4,350,026 people and killed more than 297,371 people, according to a dataset provided by Johns Hopkins University. In the UK alone, as of Saturday 14 May 2020, there has been 230,985 confirmed cases with the death toll standing at 33,264.

No official data is available on the number of attacks against Asians amid the outbreak, however there has been an increasing number of reports of racist incidents relating to the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, including verbal abuse, attacks with eggs and bullying at schools.

As an example, there was a worrying incident recently, involving an attack on a student from Singapore in London, who said that a group of people beat him up and shouted, "I don't want your coronavirus in my country," according to The Guardian. Police were investigating and looking over CCTV footage to identify suspects, The Guardian reported.

Many of the reported attacks appears to have been triggered by the bigoted notion that an Asian person is more likely to carry or transmit the coronavirus, where there is of course no evidence that such is the case.

As we struggle to deal with the challenges of the pandemic in the coming weeks and months, the question of trying to place blame on a particular ethnic group for the spreading of the virus is a fundamental problem. As individuals, we must take tangible steps to counter the hysteria around the virus to ensure we do not exacerbate the issue.


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