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False information

Gazette student columnist says most dangerous epidemic is ignorance

Student Life | Student View

By Emma Troake

With new news articles pouring in every day, we’ve all heard of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) by now. 

It is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.”

The symptoms range from mild (runny nose, cough, fever) to severe (pneumonia, breathing issues). Most deaths associated with the 2019-nCoV have been related to weaker immune systems, common with old age.

Seek facts, not rumours

The best recommended safety tips to avoid the virus is to thoroughly wash your hands, cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoid close contact with those presenting cold or flu symptoms, stay at home if you’re sick, thoroughly cook  animal products and avoid exposed contact with live animals.

With the virus has come a plethora of confusion and panic. It seems that false information is spreading a lot faster than the virus itself.

“Instead of doing the simple and quick research for trustworthy information . . . they peruse what’s trending on Twitter.”

Social media, naturally, acts as a catalyst for the circulation of rumours. Soon enough, you have an excessive amount of contradicting reports and claims with very few traceable to a verified source. Unfortunately, some people skim through headlines, believe what they see on the surface of it all, and then share it with others.

Instead of doing the simple and quick research for trustworthy information sites such as Health Canada and the World Health Organization, they peruse what’s trending on Twitter.

Official sites are wiser to turn to than the news, as some news sites do not share verifiable information and may blow aspects of the situation out of proportion for their own benefit.

Besides creating confusion, many people have started to panic and fear for their safety outside of their homes, even though there may not be any reported cases of the virus in their area. 

Discrimination never the answer

Racism and xenophobia have become other by-products of the coronavirus outbreak.

Numerous offensive “jokes” and posts have surfaced online, targeted towards Asian people and culture. Many have placed the blame on the way of life in Asian countries and making other offensive remarks surrounding their culture.

Some use this blame to justify their racism, or believe they’re only speaking “in concern” for those affected in China.

“Promoting hatred during a time when we should be working together to maintain safety and help those in need is counterproductive and shameful.”

In reality, assuming and believing that non-Asian culture is automatically better and that those individuals living in Asian countries should be pitied or regarded as incompetent is not only racist and xenophobic, but also the foundation of colonialism.

Promoting hatred during a time when we should be working together to maintain safety and help those in need is counterproductive and shameful. 

Pandemics are frightening. It’s easy to become paranoid and irrational, especially after reading unsettling stories online. It’s natural for people to be nervous.

However, this does not make it okay to discriminate against others and promote racism and xenophobia.

Trustworthy information sources

We live in a time where access to knowledge is at our fingertips, enabling us to educate ourselves with the factual information in a matter of seconds. Keeping updated with trustworthy sources and staying vigilant, as well as logical, is the best action we can take.

In the end, what’s always the most dangerous epidemic is ignorance.

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