"Shamefully ignorant": BC paper faces backlash for coronavirus headline

Feb 6 2020, 12:16 pm

The Province newspaper is receiving backlash for being “racist” and “discriminatory” in its recent coverage of the coronavirus.

In Wednesday’s print edition, the BC-based paper ran a front-page headline that read “2nd China Virus Case in B.C.” The headline reads “coronavirus” on The Province’s website.

In an online statement, Madame Tong Xiaoling, China’s Consul General in Vancouver, BC, said the headline was “extremely unprofessional” and reflected “the paper’s arrogance, prejudice and discrimination.”

“The World Health Organization defines this virus as ‘the novel coronavirus,’ which is a scientific terminology that has been adopted internationally,” she wrote.

“This is inconsistent with the Canadian core values as The Province has always professed, as well as journalistic ethics. We demand that The Province immediately apologize for its mistake and stop using similar language.”

The headline is also the centre of criticism on social media, with many expressing their dismay on Twitter.

Anne Kang, MLA for Burnaby Deer-Lake, called the headline “very troublesome,” and BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said the headline was “beyond disappointing.”

“We don’t stereotype and fear monger in the face of a health scare. We need to work together to fight the virus, not each other,” added Wilkinson.

Last week, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, said she was “concerned” around the growing reports of racism and discrimination directed towards people of Chinese and Asian descent in regards to coronavirus.

“It is understandable that our fears increase during times like this. However, we need to remember that cohesion in our collective efforts is important,” said Tam in a series of tweets.

“Racism, discrimination, and stigmatizing language are unacceptable and very hurtful. These actions create a divide of UsVsThemCanada is a country built on the deep-rooted values of respect, diversity and inclusion.” 

The BC Centre of Disease Control (BCCDC) has also issued a number of tweets hoping to clear up “several misconceptions being spread about coronavirus on social media.”

The thread notes that the virus doesn’t spread through “casual contact” and that the “receptors for coronavirus are deep in a person’s lungs.”

BC’s second presumptive case of coronavirus was confirmed by provincial health officials on Tuesday.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article erroneously stated The Province’s web edition was amended. In fact, the web copy of the article has always used “Coronavirus” in its title. 

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