Coronavirus: a racial epidemic
The recent outbreak of the Coronavirus also known as ‘Covid-19’ has spread through the UK causing problems in more ways than one.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 3,381 people have died globally from the virus while more than 97,000 infections have been confirmed in dozens of countries. Despite this, no place has suffered more devastation than China and the Asian community.
The virus has put a halt to businesses, flights, schools and the world of sports. Despite the severity of the situation, the virus itself has not only spawned a new health issue but a racial issue also.
The disease has caused a lot of unprovoked racism and tension towards the Asian community. Most Asian residents have been subject to countless amounts of racist abuse, consisting of passengers moving away from them on public transport and many ‘faking coughs’ as they pass by.
The UK has not responded well to the virus. Many individuals in the Asian community have spoken up about the racial abuse which they have been receiving since the outbreak of the virus. I spoke several Chinese students who told me about their experiences whilst living in London during the pandemic. The first student, who asked to be left anonymous, explained an altercation with a group of white passersby.
“I was walking in central when a group of white people walked past me. One girl shouted “Coronavirus” at me and continued to walk away, it made me feel sad that this is what people now thought of me and my people”. -Anonymous
As of recent, Chinese University students have been wearing a mask to reduce and stop the potential spread or catching of the Coronavirus. This move had the opposite effect, bringing more unwanted abuse to their plate. Many Chinese students have decided to travel back to their homes. One student, I spoke to told me why she made this decision.
“It makes me feel uncomfortable. People walking past and coughing, the stares and the laughs. I returned because I believe back home in safer, they have this situation under control, and I feel safer here.
Though the xenophobia which is being spread is not only occurring on the lower level, but also with powerful public figures. President Donald Trump was recorded adding to the xenophobia in his last speech, labelling Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus”.
The guardian reported news of a group of Chinese students, who study at the University of Southampton, have been abused since the outbreak of the pandemic. One student was verbally abused, called a “fucking virus”, and another student was struck with rocks whilst being told to “go back to your own country”.
A University of Southampton spokesperson said: “The university is extremely concerned by unacceptable comments directed at Chinese students. We have not had any reports of incidents on campus but we do not tolerate any form of racism and would take action as a matter of urgency on any such behaviour.”