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Xenophobia and racism related to the covid-19 pandemic

The meaning of «xenophobia and racism related to the covid-19 pandemic»

The COVID-19 pandemic, which was first reported in the city of Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019, has led to an increase in acts and displays of Sinophobia, as well as prejudice, xenophobia, discrimination, violence, and racism against people of East Asian and Southeast Asian descent and appearance around the world. With the spread of the pandemic and formation of hotspots, such as those in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, discrimination against people from these hotspots has been reported.[1][2][3]

In the past, many diseases have been named after geographical locations, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Zika virus, but in 2015, the World Health Organization introduced recommendations to avoid this practice, to reduce stigma. In accordance with this policy, the WHO recommended the official name "COVID-19" in February 2020.[4]

In early coverage of the outbreak, some news sources associated the virus with China in a manner that contributed to stigma. The journal Nature later published an apology for this type of coverage.[4][5] However, even after the majority of politicians had switched to avoiding stigmatizing language when referring to the virus, a minority continued.[4]

The US embassy in Yaoundé issued a travel warning to US citizens amid reports of "... verbal and online harassment, stone throwing, and banging on vehicles occupied by expatriates". Some residents of Cameroon thought that Europeans and Americans brought COVID to Africa.[6]

According to the Embassy of Japan in Cairo, store clerks have been hesitating to serve Japanese customers, and "corona" has also become a new slur with which to abuse Japanese people on the street.[7]

On 10 March 2020, an Uber driver was arrested after a viral video showing the driver forcibly removing his Chinese passenger at a highway in Cairo's Maadi district on suspicion of having the virus. In the video, a voice is heard in the video jokingly shouting "The first coronavirus case in Egypt!" and the same voice then tells the driver "May God support you, Hajji! Throw him out!". The incident has sparked outrage among Egyptians after the video was uploaded. Some Egyptians visited the Chinese man in his hotel and expressed an apology to him for the incident, widely condemned in the local media as an act of bullying and racism.[8][9]

Violence towards foreigners has been reported amidst the pandemic, with some locals attacking foreigners on social media by publishing photos of them and linking them to the coronavirus. The Foreign Correspondents Association of Ethiopia had warned that "dangerous rumours" and "vicious posts" were being spread on the internet about foreign journalists, while other foreigners had been physically attacked.[10]

A video reportedly recorded in Kibera, Kenya in March 2020 shows an angry crowd threatening a man and a woman of East Asian descent about the coronavirus. A man in the crowd shouts at the frightened couple, "You are corona!" A motorcycle rider from the crowd later raised his hand threatening to slap the Asian man. Growing unease towards Chinese immigrants has been reported in the streets of Nairobi and its environment especially towards construction workers.[11]

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