The recent outbreak of coronavirus, a respiratory infection which has spread from Wuhan, China to over 25 other countries, has taken the lives of more than 2,000 people to date. While most of the cases are concentrated in mainland China, coronavirus has political and personal consequences that can be felt across the globe — including in our own community. In the following submissions, students share their perspectives on the health emergency.
“How funny it is that my hometown became famous because of the coronavirus,” a friend of mine jokingly said. Not long ago, she was simply perceived as an international college student. Now she is labeled a Chinese student from Wuhan –– the origin of the disease.
The imperceptible potential of contracting coronavirus, as well as the rate of propagation, are disturbing. Because the virus can have an incubation period of up to 14 days, people are traveling abroad without awareness that they are infected. This boosts the spread of the disease. As a result, there is a great deal of criticism toward Chinese people, as they are being blamed for bringing the virus into new countries.
My friend admitted that she has been upset by certain interactions on our own campus. Even though she returned to school in early January, when the disease had just begun to spread, her family and friends are still in Wuhan. “There is nothing I can do, except tell them to wear masks,” she recalled. She said she feels helpless and is deeply concerned for her family and friends. The harmful comments that she has observed on the news and social media posts have depressed her further. The news blames people from Wuhan for consuming exotic animals and traveling during this time period. My friend feels disappointed when she notices the people around her acting extremely cautious, as if she herself is some kind of virus.
“Society should be geared toward an environment where race is not the primary criteria to judge one another.”
“It hurts,” my friend confessed. “People should not generalize and attribute the virus to the whole Chinese population.” She pointed out that “there are restaurants refusing to allow Chinese people in.” While it is true that the disease originated from China, extrapolating this to all Chinese people is not a productive reaction. “Society should be geared toward an environment where race is not the primary criteria to judge one another,” she added.
I was both surprised by and sympathetic to what my friend from Wuhan has encountered. The response of unfair overgeneralization hurts people’s feelings. As a Chinese student myself, this is especially disheartening to hear about. Next time you meet an international student, throw away the stereotypes and maybe take a moment to learn about who they really are. If they are a Chinese student from Wuhan, ask them, “How are your parents? Is your family doing okay?” or simply respond with a hug. That would be sweet. I hope our world can become better with a little respect and a lot of empathy, because sometimes a little consideration goes a long way.
– Jessica Kuo
UC Santa Barbara students should not be overly paranoid about coronavirus spreading to our campus. First of all, since the disease originated in China, the only way for the virus to get to Santa Barbara would be from a community member traveling to and from China. As most UCSB faculty and students returned from winter break before the virus was discovered, we are not at high risk of contraction. Santa Barbara doesn’t have an international airport and it isn’t an overly popular tourist city. There is very little chance that the citizens here have been exposed to the virus.
Furthermore, most airlines have recently canceled flights between China and other countries. The federal government has also enacted a new policy stating that all tourists from China must be quarantined and observed for 14 days, which is the extent of the incubation period of the virus, before they can leave and go about their business. The last two cases in California have been confined and quarantined to hospitals. The virus is still far away from us. It is an overreaction to ask for our campus to be shut down.
For students who are healthy, please respect those who are sick or wearing masks.
Although the chances of exposure to coronavirus are very low, we cannot presume our community is a completely safe zone. Along with coronavirus, there are also several kinds of influenza circulating in the U.S. Students should wear masks to protect themselves from catching the flu from public areas, especially in crowded places, such as the library or large lecture halls. Since some symptoms of these flus are similar to the coronavirus infection, people who have a fever, cough and breathing difficulties should visit Student Health and receive a diagnosis for their illness. After that, they should avoid going to crowded places or talking to other people without a mask because the flu is also highly contagious.
Finally, for students who are healthy, please respect those who are sick or wearing masks. All we mask-wearers want to do is keep viruses and disease from spreading. Please do not laugh at people wearing masks or insult them for doing so. Be friendly and sympathetic and let hope fill our campus.
– Hondong Huang
As a Chinese international student who wants to pursue a career in health, I have to raise my voice: The epidemic is not an excuse to be racist.
I am fortunate to have not yet personally experienced any racial prejudice at UC Santa Barbara. However, my best friend, who studies at Emerson College in Boston, was verbally assaulted by a couple of strangers because she is Asian and wore a mask. Also, some of my non-Chinese friends have told me that their parents have advised them to stay away from Chinese people. I was shocked and saddened to hear that people would start to blame and fear an entire ethnicity during this health emergency.
However, these people fail to realize that the Chinese are just as afraid as everyone else — or possibly even more afraid. We are scared and sad because our friends, families and the cities we were raised in are struggling during this catastrophe. Right now, it’s the Lunar New Year, which is the equivalent of the winter holidays for Western cultures, the time of year for family reunions and to spread love and support. However, this year people are quarantined, separated and facing discrimination. The social stigma against Chinese people is growing worse, and when people are quick to blame, fewer are inclined to help.
This is a battle between all humans and the coronavirus. China is just the first victim.
The Chinese are not a public threat; the virus and those exposed to the outbreak are. This is not an issue of ethnicity, religion, physical appearance, gender, geography or nationality. This is simple science: it’s about a virus spreading among humans and affecting people’s health. This is a battle between all humans and the coronavirus. China is just the first victim. Racial prejudice born of this epidemic isolates Chinese people, causing whoever is experiencing symptoms to hide their illness, contributing further to the public health crisis. So stop blaming an entire segment of the population and instead help protect our community.
Information about the evolving coronavirus epidemic is being clearly and effectively conveyed to the public. As a part of this community, it’s our responsibility to get information from reliable sources and stop panicking. Don’t hate or judge people of Chinese ethnicity. Keep up with the news, focus on the facts and advocate for public health to actively protect our community.
– Enjia Zhang
Wuhan is known to have a large exotic meat market, which is why the virus is thought to have originated from one of the animals sold at the market. It was originally thought that the virus could only be spread from direct contact with an infected animal. However, as more information about coronavirus comes to light, researchers have concluded that this disease can also spread from human contact.
As densely populated areas, Isla Vista and the UC Santa Barbara campus are prime locations for diseases to spread; coronavirus is no exception. However, there is a lot of false information circulating in the media, giving rise to unnecessary panic. It is crucial that the UCSB community stays up to date with accurate information about the virus in order to remain safe and healthy.
Coronavirus is primarily transmitted through person-to-person contact. It is still unclear whether or not the virus can be passed through touch, such as by touching a surface that an infected person has also touched. Because of the nature of the disease, it is very important to wash your hands thoroughly and often — especially before and after coming into contact with your face, eyes or nose.
There is a lot of false information circulating in the media, giving rise to unnecessary panic.
Another crucial step that UCSB students can take to prevent the spread of this virus is staying home when they are sick and avoiding close contact with others who are sick with any illness. If the sickness persists, it is imperative to visit a doctor. While the odds of contracting coronavirus in this area are extremely low, early diagnosis can be key in disease prevention.
It is important to note that the measures that should be taken to prevent a possible case of coronavirus are essentially the same measures that should be taken to avoid any common contagious virus.
To get the most up-to-date information, UCSB students should consult credible websites such as that of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or speak with their local health care providers. If the public is well-informed and aware of the symptoms and proper preventative measures, it will be easier for health care providers to treat and contain the virus.
Finally, there has been much unnecessary hysteria surrounding the outbreak of this disease. To avoid this, well-informed students should pass along reliable information to others. It is important for the community to be educated in order to keep everyone well versed on the nature of the virus. We should encourage friends and peers to watch out for signs and symptoms while simultaneously keeping in mind that these symptoms could be — and most likely are — indicative of any number of viruses. We must also encourage our community members to maintain healthy living habits, such as washing hands and keeping clean living spaces. In doing so, the UCSB community can remain safe and educated on the outbreak of this world health epidemic.
– Maya Wohl
My homeland is severely suffering from coronavirus. People are forced to stay in their homes and are in great danger. As the virus is still being researched, experts and scientists are not yet certain of the modes of transmission or effective treatments. Thus, people must take up their own efforts to defend themselves against it. Many families and individuals in China are now struggling against the fatal virus, including family members of international students here.
Although we are studying in a foreign country, our minds are consumed with our home country. It is extremely distressing to see that our prosperous hometowns are now empty cities, and many factories and schools are being transformed into temporary hospitals. To help our country get through this difficult time, international students have tried our best to transport medical supplies back to China. Among these supplies, masks and protective suits are most important for avoiding further infection.
On the UCSB campus, the prevalence of mask-wearing has recently led to an increased amount of discrimination. Although I have never personally experienced this, I have witnessed and read about plenty of racist attacks around the world against Chinese people. We want people to know that most of us never lived in the city where the virus originated and that most of us have not been back to China since the outbreak began. We have had no contact with the virus, so there is no reason for Chinese students to be ostracized.
Some western media sources have named the virus “yellow peril,” which is blatant racism.
Though coronavirus originated in China, Chinese people should not be labeled as ill or contaminated. Coronavirus is a catastrophe for all human beings, not only Chinese people. Mankind must stick together to persist through collective difficulty. Just like Ebola and -CoV, coronavirus is not anyone’s fault — including those who have been infected.
In 2009, thousands of people were infected by H1N1, or swine flu, a widespread flu which originated in Mexico. However, no one blamed a certain country or race for that pandemic. Though China is working tirelessly to fight against coronavirus and minimize the global death toll, some western media sources have named the virus “yellow peril,” which is blatant racism.
Chinese students are wearing face masks as a protective measure, because we don’t want to be infected by other people. We are not sick. I hope the racist behaviors will stop and we can avoid imposing further psychological harm to Chinese students.
– Liuyi Chen
“Don’t look at me like I am some kind of freak!” This is what I want to tell the xenophobic students at UC Santa Barbara.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, all Chinese students have been put on high alert: many of them started to wear face masks in order to minimize chances of infection. Some people on campus who may not be aware of the seriousness of the situation seem bothered by Chinese students wearing masks. Holly Smith, an administrative nursing supervisor and infection control coordinator at UCSB, suggested that there is no need for those who have not been infected by the virus to wear masks. Yet, the incubation period, the contagious stage of the virus, can last up to 14 days. The purpose of wearing masks is simply to protect one another from the risk of getting infected. Although there are no confirmed cases at UCSB, it is still necessary to implement preventative methods.
We should acknowledge the function of facial masks in preventing the spread of any disease.
While the chance of an outbreak in Santa Barbara is extremely low, Chinese students are not willing to take any chances. I sincerely ask UCSB students to stop being xenophobic toward the virus. We should acknowledge the function of facial masks in preventing the spread of any disease. It is indecent for people to discriminate against any racial group, especially during such a sensitive time.
Cultural differences also account for this misguided attitude toward mask-wearing. Unlike in western cultures, mask-wearing is a common method of illness prevention in China and other Asian countries. Not only do we wear masks during flu season, we also put on face masks whenever we are sick to stop an illness from spreading further. Face masks certainly do a better job of this than sneezing and coughing into an elbow. And for those who are not sick, masks can diminish the chances of becoming infected.
I am really sorry that students wearing masks on campus is causing some people to panic. I hope that other students will educate themselves about the benefits of face masks and the good intentions of Chinese students who wear them. We do this not only for our own health, but also for the protection of the people around us.
– Hao Gong