Coronavirus

Prejudice and COVID-19

 

Image: William Sutherland Creative Commons, Public Domain

The impact of the global coronavirus crisis in generating panic and fear has prompted comparisons with the prejudice arising from the media’s coverage of AIDS and the HIV virus four decades ago.

The news network, CNN has been reporting incidents of Asian people being subjected to physical and verbal assault in the USA.

There have been similar reports in the UK of racism being directed at people thought to be from China.

The Met Police are seeking four suspects over an attack on a student from Singapore last week who was told ‘we don’t want your coronavirus in our country.’

Two suspects sought by Met Police over assault on student from Singapore 24th February. Image: Met Police

To what extent are we experiencing echoes of the negative connotations directed towards gay people during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s?

When the AIDS crisis emerged it was intitially referred to as ‘the gay plague’ or as ‘Gay Related Immuno Defficiency.’

This can be compared with the recent CNN report that a man in Los Angeles was overheard saying that people from China are filthy and bring diseases.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, CDC, have reported that being of Asian decent does not make someone more likely to be infected by the virus.

Does this misconception arise from an over-sensationalisation of the threat that the virus presents in the media?

Janice Gassam, Senior Contributor in Diversity & Inclusion at Forbes Magazine makes the point that despite the 24/7 reporting about the virus, the likelihood of someone within the U.S. contracting the virus is relatively low and perhaps this needs emphasising.

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