Written by Abbey Morelli, Opinions Editor
The recent eruption of the coronavirus has brought with it side effects that are not all health related. The new strain of virus was originally detected in Wuhan, China in December and has been described as a “deadly pneumonia-like virus.” It presents itself with flu-like symptoms with the potential for pneumonia. There is no vaccine and antibiotics are not applicable for viral infections. Those who suspect they were in contact with someone infected will be placed in isolation while being tested.
There are many misconceptions about the virus, especially prevalent and spreading via social media platforms like Twitter and even Tiktok. Unfortunately, people are being ruled by their fear of the virus and through false news. Instead of being sympathetic to those infected and being conscious of one’s own measures to remain healthy, people have turned the outbreak into a racial issue, condemning those infected and spreading rumors about the origin of the virus. People are turning their fear into hate and ignorance.
Harmful xenophobia, or prejudice toward foreigners, has been extremely prevalent since the eruption of the virus. In the United States, there are several confirmed cases of the virus, but none have been fatal and they have been successfully contained. We are lucky to be in the state we are in, far from the virus and with access to advanced healthcare. It is inhumane to target the outbreak as a race issue and we need to do better.
Spreading false news and hate is extremely unproductive and in no way will help the already stressful matter. News sites are claiming significantly different numbers of people affected—false news ensures panic will arise. That said, the virus has proven to be severely dangerous and can lead to death in extreme cases. People are advised to wash hands and be cautious of coughing and sneezing, being sure to cover their mouths and noses. The best thing we can do is to be responsible about our own hygiene and health. If you are unwell, stay home and limit contact with others. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and alert a doctor if you come down with symptoms so they may prepare their offices and minimize the spread of illness. While we should be reading and watching the news to be aware of updates, do not believe everything you hear. Caution: fake news may spread faster than the virus itself.