Canada's top doctor "concerned" about racism linked to coronavirus

Jan 31 2020, 12:26 pm

Canada’s top doctor says she is “concerned” around the growing reports of racism and discrimination directed towards people of Chinese and Asian descent in relation 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 Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, on Twitter.

Tam says it is critical to learn from the SARS outbreak in 2003 where “where South East Asians faced significant #racism and #discrimination.” 

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

This message was echoed by City of Toronto officials earlier this week. 

“Inaccurate information continues to spread and this is creating unnecessary stigma against members of our community. I am deeply concerned and find it disappointing
that this is happening,” Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s Medical Officer of Health, said in a release that is available in both English and Chinese.

“Discrimination is not acceptable. It is not helpful and spreading misinformation does not offer anyone protection.”

Others have taken to social media to express their concerns with racism in Canada linked to coronavirus.

A racist encounter was also recently captured on video in Metro Vancouver. The video was uploaded and shared on Instagram on Thursday evening. The user says that the incident took place in the afternoon and involved a man making racist comments about the virus towards their mother and sister.

The short clip reveals a brief exchange in which the man says “You dropped your coronavirus.”

The BC Centre of Disease Control (BCCDC) 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.”

The fourth case of coronavirus in Canada was confirmed in Ontario on Friday.

With files from Vincent Plana and Kayla Gladysz.