The Age of Coronavirus Hysteria

COVID-19 is an unavoidable topic on a day-to-day basis at SAS. And it should be. After all, very few events and immediate plans are immune to the effect of this looming Pandemic.

However, while the world wakes up to new hotspots and reactions, living under the constant threat of this omnipresent contagion has become the new normal in Singapore and at SAS.

A month ago, a Chinese teacher at SAS had to explain to her students that she had not recently traveled from China in order to ensure that they felt safe learning in her classroom. And she is not the only one.

Only a few weeks ago, instant noodles and toilet paper sold out of stock in a short period of time. Customers were stocking up with daily essential objects as they were feared that those objects will be sold out soon or raise up to a relatively high price, just like what happened to surgical masks and hand sanitizer. Considering the number of Confirmed Coronavirus cases might still increase within this short period of time, Singaporeans started to queue in long lines to buy those daily essentials in supermarkets, such as Fair Price.

A lady bought a trolley of instant noodles for Coronavirus stocking. Source:https://www.asiaone.com/digital/some-memes-singapore-ugly-weekend-coronavirus-panic-hoarding

In response to that crazy weekend, Fair Price posted a notice to customers saying that they will be limiting the number of instant noodles, toilet paper, and other essential items a customer can buy at one time. This policy is to ensure more customers to get access to those daily essentials to meet daily needs. At the same time, they also pointed out that the shelves will be filling up with stock.

According to Straitstimes, the upper limit for the number of paper products each customer could buy is four packs. In addition to that, one customer is only allowed to buy two bags of rice and four packs of instant noodles at max.

COVID-19 is a new strain of the virus that has not been defined previously. Researches have shown that this virus might be originated wild animals, such as bats and pangolins. There is currently no specific medicine for this virus and many countries have been involved in the vaccine development process, along with all Chinese provinces. This coronavirus is highly likely with the SARS epidemic situation.

Some common symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, breathing difficulties. As the virus develops furthermore in the body, It might cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.

According to WHO(World Health Association), the escalating global health crisis of the Novel Coronavirus, or Covid-19, has caused over 4500 deaths and over 120,000 infections worldwide. People are frantic, as well as worried about their friends and family living in different parts of the world. Unfortunately, the rapid spread of the virus has also come with the spread of racism and xenophobia.

Jessie Yeung, a CNN news reporter, writes that “many people of Asian descent living abroad say they have been treated like walking pathogens” (CNN). Everything from moving to sit next to someone else on the MRT or opting to go to a pizza restaurant instead of the Chinese stall nearby has deeply affected many East Asians around the world.

The most popular theories behind the source of the virus point to Eurocentric stereotypes about Chinese food.

Everyone’s opinions are culturally-relative. If someone who grew up eating burgers and pasta read about people eating bats and snakes, they would immediately brand those foods as “weird.” Because of this, people who believe that the virus originated from consuming wild animals continue to “accuse Chinese people of recklessly causing a potential global pandemic” (CNN). Although the Wuhan wildlife trade does pose legitimate problems that may concern the spread of the disease, it is wrong to place the blame on a group of people who themselves never wanted to do so.

“Many people of Asian descent living abroad say they have been treated like walking pathogens.”

Jessie Yeung, CNN news reporter

It seems like almost everywhere in the world, Chinese individuals are avoided and sidelined. A newspaper called The Herald Sun in Victoria, Australia, called Covid-19 a “Chinese Virus.” On social media, twitter posts have badgered those living in China, despite the fact that viral diseases “don’t have ethnic, racial or national characteristics” (NY Times).

The effects of the Covid-19 in China. Source.

When asked about whether Chinese students are being treated differently at SAS, Martin Salgado, a junior at SAS, says: “I feel like there has been a little of an attitude shift towards Chinese people. Even if they’ve never lived in China and have nothing to do with the virus, I think people have started acting differently towards them because of the current coronavirus situation.” This just shows that not only are we not talking about the nature of the virus enough, but we are also not willing to look past fake news and misinformation from sources that we think are credible.

Covid-19 at SAS. Source.

“I feel like there has been a little of an attitude shift towards Chinese people.”

Martin Salgado, a junior at SAS

SAS is a place where diversity is celebrated; yet, COVID-19 has brought out the worst in some of us. It is up to us to recognize the injustice in our actions and begin considering other reasons why Chinese citizens spread the virus. Whether it be the lack of education or the importance of tradition, it is crucial that we stop pointing fingers and fight to make it right.

Author: Zi Hui Lim

Zi Hui Lim is currently a junior at SAS, and this is her first year working for The Eye. She is from Singapore and spent most of her childhood here, but she lived in London for two years before coming back to Singapore and attending SAS as a third grader. In her free time, she likes to drink bubble tea (but only from Each a Cup) and hang out with friends!! She can be reached at lim42384@sas.edu.sg.

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