As the new coronavirus spreads internationally, so does the increasing panic that is being felt internationally.
Social media and the discourse that it enables only fuel this panic. New articles about the total deaths from the virus are updated seemingly by the minute, and a culture of disease control through fear mongering has proved to be an international trend.
There is an inherently problematic nature in fear mongering when it comes to health scares. While the coronavirus outbreak is a serious epidemic, and it needs to be properly reported on in order to keep the public well informed, some of the insights and reporting have changed from informative to simply racist, untrue or overdramatized.
During this health scare, rather than falling into social media’s manner of fear mongering and spreading racist arguments about coronavirus, people should instead check in with themselves and make sure that their habits are healthy ones. With a culture of workaholism that is praised in society, it is hard to call in sick to work or take an absence in school, even when it is necessary.
The best way to stop the spread of viruses is to stay healthy — which could be done in simple ways like washing hands, eating right and getting a few extra hours of sleep each night.
The worst thing to do at a time of health crisis is to resort to xenophobia. Just because the virus came to fruition in China does not mean that all people of Asian descent have the virus, are more susceptible to the virus or are the people you should avoid on public transportation or in daily interaction.
It is behaviors like these that are racist and xenophobic that do nothing in means of protecting oneself or others from contracting of the virus. All this does is spread xenophobia, which in truth is institutionalized in our country’s means of handling any international crisis, whether it be an epidemic or otherwise.
Individuals must do what they can to prevent catching the virus by taking any normal precautions when it comes to getting sick — washing hands, getting more sleep, trying to maintain stress and monitor all aspects that keep the immune system in check. Coronavirus may be an international epidemic, but it is not the first, and most certainly not the last. We must improve our international dialogue when it comes to crisis control, especially when it comes to illness.