Opinion

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, let’s NOT be woke

Canadian media and politicians appear to be more concerned about being politically correct than actually containing the deadly virus.

Karen Woods Montreal, QC
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It has been more than three weeks since China first admitted to the world about the pandemic coronavirus outbreak. They had lied about it back in December 2019, reassuring the world that it was nothing to worry about. Since then, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on January 30, well after the coronavirus outbreak spread well beyond China.

On January 31, The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journals published the latest findings of Professor Gabriel Leung MD, Prof Joseph Wu phD, Kathy Leung phD from the University of Hong Kong. According to their simulation model, 75,815 individuals have already been infected in the Greater Wuhan region, seven times higher than the numbers released by the Chinese government. Testimonials from distressed frontline doctors and nurses confirm their estimate.

As of today, almost every continent has countries which issued travel bans to China. The United States, UK, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Israel are among them. Russia and North Korea closed their borders with China. In addition, the United States, Taiwan, Japan and UK have issued quarantine advisories to those who have been to China for the past 14 days, which brings us to the question: “Why has Canada been so laissez faire about this epidemic?”

It seems that our Canadian health officials have been more concerned about alleged racism than getting correct information on the Canadian public in a timely manner. On January 25, when the first case of coronavirus was identified, Toronto Public Health officials said the risks remained low and the virus spread from people to people and show symptoms of fever. They were wrong. At the time there were already studies indicating that the infected do not always show symptoms.

When asked by a CTV reporter which flight the first infected person was on, Toronto Public Health could not give a straight answer. Then, again, on January 31, Health Minister Hajdu said Health Canada maintains there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted by people who are asymptomatic. She was wrong.  Chinese health officials had already confirmed multiple asymptomatic transmission cases last week.

On January 28 The York District School Board received a petition signed by thousands of parents calling on the school board to quarantine students. The school board then said to CBC, “What we’re trying really to get at is to [make sure] this situation is not giving rise to any inadvertent racism or any of those things that we could single out a community at this time”.

Except, they were wrong. The petition was signed by mostly Chinese parents who have first-hand understanding of how severe and dire the outbreak is in China. They may have access to information which our health officials and school board officials are not privy to.  The mandatory quarantine policy has been reinforced by four countries already. These parents are NOT racists. They are just anxious and worried about their children. They are also a little upset and not impressed by the way our officials handled the communication on this issue altogether.

Civic leaders like Dr Joseph Wong and Avvy Go from the Chinee Canadian National Council said they want to get rid of the “myth” surrounding the virus. While both have done great work in advancing social justice in the Chinese Canadian community, neither of them has any expertise in immunology.

Xenophobia and racism have no place in Canada. But to interpret legitimate health concerns and advocacy for a travel ban to racism is equally despicable. The latest number of cases under investigation have jumped to 43 in Ontario. Why shouldn’t Canada issue a travel ban to people, regardless of ethnicity, who have been to China for the past fourteen days?

It is not racist to heighten alert around this yet unknown disease. I have cancelled all my Chinese New Year celebrations as I learn more about this fast spreading contagious virus. Am I a racist? Many cultural groups and organizations in the GTA either cancelled or rescheduled their Chinese New Year celebration. Are they racist?

Taking precautionary steps is not an over reaction. It is what every responsible citizen should do. By bringing race into the fight against the coronavirus, we may end up exonerating the responsibilities of the individual. And that is dangerous!

Already, there are people who came back from Wuhan who do not exercise self-quarantine. They roam the streets and restaurants freely. Furthermore, they post pictures of their daily outings on WeChat. Why is that acceptable behavior? The first man who contracted the coronavirus from Wuhan had known that he was sick. He had a choice. He could have sought medical treatment in Beijing when he transferred planes there. He did not. He continued his itinerary, putting everyone else at risk. He was selfish and irresponsible. He deserves no sympathy. He should be chastised. We should all be thankful that self-help groups for those who voluntarily quarantine after their return from China have started in the GTA’s Chinese community. These WeChat groups connect families who are in quarantine with local grocery stores, bakeries to deliver food and supplies.

Regressive liberals have a funny way of thinking. They will do anything, including overlooking scientific research, data and facts to reinforce their soft bigotry of low expectations. They will try to let political correctness dictate public health policies. As a result, they do far more harm to the people they claim to protect.

Let’s not be woke about the coronavirus, but conscious of its life-threatening dangers. Let’s take every necessary step in containing it.

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