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What is the coronavirus?

Credit: DYLAN CHARETTE

Novel coronavirus is not a racial matter.


Salma Hussein | Interrobang | Lifestyles | February 21st, 2020




Since the beginning of 2020, chaos seems to have taken a liking to us; the forest fires in Australia, a World War III scare, Kobe Bryant’s unfortunate demise, and of course a novel coronavirus outbreak — amongst many other catastrophes that have happened in less than two months of the New Year.

The novel coronavirus took the world by surprise when it first sprang in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the new virus shares similarities of previous outbreaks, such as MERSCoV and SARS-CoV. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning that the viruses are transmitted between both animals and humans.

According to healthline.com, the virus causes respiratory illnesses like the common cold. The Lancet, a scholarly journal, has a new study that researches the onset of the virus, and found that it may have originated in bats, and spread to human via snake or pangolin (an animal that looks like an armadillo).

To date [article written on Feb. 18], there are eight people who tested positive for the coronavirus in Canada (according to canada.ca), and 15 in our neighbouring country down below. But nothing beats the whooping number of 72,436 positive cases in mainland China.

With the new virus bringing fear and worry of its danger, its similarity to previous ones we have encountered bring hope in possibility of recovery. WHO encourages individuals to handwash regularly, cover your mouth and nose when sneezing, and make sure to take proper precautions when coming in contact with anyone showing signs of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Being wary of your health is understandable and recommended to avoid encountering the novel coronavirus. However, myths and facts should be kept in check in order to be mindful of the people around you.

Here are some myths that the outbreak has caused that we should all be mindful of.

Myth: Buying imported items from china will make you sick.

Fact: The virus does not stay alive very long on surfaces (things that are not living). As previously stated, the virus is very likely to be transmitted through droplets from a person’s sneeze or cough. Therefore, your package that has been in delivery for several days or weeks, is not very likely to cause you any illness.

Myth: A face mask will protect you from the virus. Because the masks that the general population wears are not a tight fit, the mask can protect you from big droplets or splashes, but smaller droplets are permeable. If you have the virus already, it could be on your hand, so when you touch your face under the mask, you may become infected.

Myth: The coronavirus is transmitted by any Chinese individual.

Ignorance is very dangerous. The novel coronavirus is not a racial matter, and therefore does not target a specific race and disregard another. Not every Chinese person you meet or see in the halls has the coronavirus. So please, do not subjugate your peers to unwarranted criticism.

According to CBC News, a permanent resident in Ottawa who holds a Chinese passport was not permitted to board on a cruise with her family due to the fact that she was Chinese. She had not been to China in the last six months and was still not permitted to board. The cruise was sending a message to its passengers that “you are very welcome on board, and don’t worry, there will be no Chinese people.”

In a time of crisis, we should not be outcasting people based on their ethnicity. This is a time where we need to help each other out to make sure that the virus does not tear us apart.

So be mindful of what you say or how you act, because your words and actions can be hurtful; especially when the whole world is having a crisis, and you think everyone is blaming you due to your race.

Let’s make sure we keep respecting each other Fanshawe!
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