Thousands of Twitter users blamed supposedly “dirty” Chinese eating habits for the outbreak of the coronavirus.
A video of a young Chinese woman biting into a virtually whole bat has sprung criticism by many on social media relating to the outbreak of Wuhan’s coronavirus.
The Wuhan coronavirus believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in Wuhan, China, that was supposedly selling wildlife. It has since spread to cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. Hong Kong has six confirmed cases.
The purported video brought back old racist ideas: that the “dirty” Chinese are carriers of the disease. Many Americans long believed that, as the New York Daily Tribune wrote in 1854, Chinese people were “uncivilized, unclean, filthy beyond all conception.”
Experts have noted that spreading such information can fuel fear and racism. They explained that as the Wuhan coronavirus spreads, the Chinese as a group are more likely to be blamed for its incubation and spread.
In countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, where there are already clashes around ethnic Chinese, those sentiments could turn nasty.
In the US, especially under the Trump administration, it could fuel both government and public prejudices.
China has called for transparency in managing the crisis after a cover-up of the spread of the deadly SARS virus eroded public trust. Still, officials in Wuhan have been criticized for their handling of the current outbreak.
Bats may not be responsible for Wuhan coronavirus
A new study has declared that bats may not be responsible for the outbreak of Wuhan Coronavirus, which currently has claimed more than a hundred lives (107 as of the last count). 4,500 were reportedly infected.
According to the study, the early known victims of the virus had no contact with the market.
The published study noted, currently, it has still not been determined that the Wuhan coronavirus originated in bats. It is also still unclear how it made its way to humans.
It explained it was quite likely not through the eating of any creatures of the night (bats).
Bart Haagmans, a virologist at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, said characterizing the virus as a product of an entire country’s eating habits feels both inaccurate and wildly offensive.
Also, in a widely circulated tweet on Thursday, a doctor said anyone promoting viral videos of Chinese people eating bats is “both racist and a dangerous opportunist.”
Others also frowned at the linking of Wuhan coronavirus to bats.
David Tsu said:
Suggestions that the Chinese practice of eating bats is directly responsible for introducing the virus to humans have not been confirmed. In previous cases, bats infected other animals via their feces or saliva, and the unwitting intermediaries transmitted the virus to humans.
While another supporter noted that bats are a rich source of protein, suggesting people switch from eating cows which is not nature-friendly to bats.
— 陈秋实（陳秋實） (@chenqiushi404) January 22, 2020
Coronavirus spreading worldwide
The US State Department said it will relocate personnel at its Wuhan consulate to the United States and will offer a limited number of seats to private US citizens on a January 28 flight to San Francisco.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday the government was working with Chinese authorities to arrange a charter flight for any Japanese nationals who wish to return from Wuhan.
The World Health Organization this week stopped short of calling the outbreak a global health emergency, but some health experts question whether China can continue to contain the epidemic.
Notably, no fatalities have been reported outside China.
The outbreak has prompted widening curbs on movements within China, with Wuhan, a city of 11 million, on virtual lockdown, with transports links all-but severed except for emergency vehicles.
Health authorities in Beijing urged people not to shake hands but instead salute using a traditional cupped-hand gesture. The advice was sent in a text message that went out to mobile phone users in the city on Sunday morning.
Beijing also postponed the reopening of the city’s schools and universities after the Lunar New Year holiday, state radio reported. Hong Kong had already delayed the reopening of schools to February 17.
Health officials in Orange County, California, reported that a third case of the virus had been registered in the United States, in a traveler from Wuhan, who was in isolation and in good condition.
On Saturday, Canada declared a first “presumptive” confirmed case in a resident who had returned from Wuhan. Australia confirmed its first four cases.