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The Coronavirus: More than just a disease

Written by Comment, Uncategorised

Late 2019 saw an outbreak of Coronavirus in China; the disease spreading globally shortly after and following through into the first few months of the new decade. This disease, however, has highlighted not only gaps in our disease prevention systems but has also shone a light on apparent systemic racism and prejudice prevalent in the UK.

Since the outbreak of the disease in Wuhan, people around the world have been living in fear of a virus that may not impact their lives in the slightest. Parallel to the disease this fear has grown and spread, taking root in people’s minds and instilling more than just an anxiety for their wellbeing, but has sparked a prejudice and hate towards those of East-Asian heritage.

Blaming a disease on an entire demographic of people is unfair, immoral, and blatantly problematic. Many East-Asian people may have never even visited China, let alone Wuhan where the outbreak started; East-Asia also encompassing Mongolia, Japan, and Korea which are diverse countries in their own rights.

Many East-Asian people may have never even visited China, let alone Wuhan where the outbreak started

The evident racial attitudes targeting people of East-Asian heritage, inferring a “go back to where you came from” attitude, makes the lives and experiences of East-Asian British appear invalidated, reducing them to what they are perceived as being, immigrants. This is particularly unjust and ignorant considering that some may have lived in the UK for multiple generations. But even if they are immigrants, or have come to the UK to study as many do, we should be accepting, supportive, and embracing of this community, particularly at a time of such difficulty. Instead, despite this disaster potentially being from a country that is not even associated to their heritage the East-Asian community are being maliciously targeted for a disaster that is out of their control. This racism and Sinophobia needs to stop. Yes, the Coronavirus is worrying, but the government and NHS has published ways in which the virus can be prevented, and the threat to British lives is still low. Rather than leaving them to feel isolated and alienated, we must bridge the divide and work to create an environment where these vulnerable students feel accepted, not shunning them due to their nationality.

Yes, the Coronavirus is worrying, but the government and NHS has published ways in which the virus can be prevented, and the threat to British lives is still low.

Britain really needs to open its mind, we should embrace other cultures, instead of actively trying to remove certain groups from our country because of a disease that poses little risk to our lives. Our country is built on the backs of cross-cultural exchange and we must not let our fear of a little foreign virus blind us from the significance and celebration of this.

To do so would make Britain a place that I, for one, would hate to live, devoid of any vibrancy, or life (other than the local Wetherspoons of course). It is this cross-cultural exchange that makes Britain interesting, and alive. If we decide to give in to these racists and the spreading Sinophobia, we are losing not only the culture that British-Asians bring with them, but their minds too, their creativity and ingenuity. What we must remember is that if any of the groups and communities that exist in our nation were to be removed or lost due to racist feelings, sparked or brought to light by diseases or other causes, Britain could become like a jigsaw puzzle with a missing vital piece; incomplete and incredibly disappointing.

Last modified: 11th February 2020

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