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The Coronavirus is Rapidly Spreading and So is Prejudice Against Those of Chinese Descent

Marion Charatan

Posted on February 3, 2020 16:46

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Experts are worried the coronavirus, also known as the 2019-nCoV infection, could turn into a pandemic. Health officials say the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to it.

It is terrible that the coronavirus is now labeled as a World Health Crisis. In fact, right down the street from me, there is a patient in isolation at the University of Washington Medical Center Northwest Campus. He is still awaiting the results of his test for the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China. 
 
There is a great deal of fear and misinformation swirling around this new viral infection, which is of a respiratory nature. In fact, I was taking a walk recently in Seattle and a neighbor said to me, “Hey you, better glove and mask up,” in an urgent tone. He was wearing a pair of surgical gloves, just out and about seemingly running errands and clutching a surgical mask in his hand.  
 
Right now, we in the US are not in the severe health emergency that the unfortunate residents of China are embedded in. They are quarantined in extraordinary numbers and not allowed to travel out of their area. It is my understanding that the population there was not alerted soon enough about the seriousness of the virus. 
 
Unfortunately, the coronavirus has caused some to discriminate against folks of Asian descent. It should be remembered that this is a health crisis that could have started in any country at any time.  

As of this morning, there are 17,389 confirmed cases, according to World Health Organization. This is a staggering increase of 2,832 cases from the previous day. People in 24 countries have tested positive for the virus, although the only death outside China is in the Philippines. The other 361 confirmed deaths are in China.
 
I recall when Ebola arose and there seemed to be a disproportionate negative reaction to people of  African descent.  


It is important to note that disease does not discriminate. It affects people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, genders or ages.  
 
Now that it’s been determined the virus transmits from person-to-person, more fear has arisen. It is common to be afraid of the unknown -- and not nearly enough is known about coronavirus.  
 
There are many selfless and brave members of the medical community working day and night to help the sick. I was touched to learn that doctors’ teams in Seattle are making house calls to those exhibiting any symptoms of coronavirus that include fever, sneezing and chest pain or discomfort. Robots are treating patients in the US and other locations who are isolated in hospital wards.  

The Centers for Disease Control has recommendations for prevention and treatment that include hand washing and keeping unclean hands off your eyes, nose and mouth.

Immunologists are working hard on a vaccine for coronavirus. It could be developed within a year. Let’s not turn our backs on those suffering from any type of illness—or blame them for coming from a country where a virus happened to originate. Better, let’s pray for them to return to health and also for a quick eradication of this new threat to humankind.  

Marion Charatan

Posted on February 3, 2020 16:46

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