Briones: No panicking, please

On The Go

AS of Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, the viral pneumonia outbreak in mainland China had killed 56 persons and sickened more than 2,000 others.

Twelve countries also reported 38 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Thailand topped the list with eight cases, followed by Japan with four. None of these countries have reported any fatalities.

Although the Philippines is not on the list, there have been reports of suspected cases. Many, actually. However, when checked, these turned out to be false alarms, which is good news. What is bad news is that some members of the public have been getting the wrong information about the virus and have been spreading it, causing undue alarm.

Earlier this month, a five-year-old boy who arrived in Cebu from Wuhan, China, considered ground zero for the 2019-nCoV, was admitted to a local hospital after he displayed pneumonia-like symptoms.

Confirmatory tests conducted at the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, though, showed that he had a different illness—he tested positive for pan-coronavirus.

Well, there you go. With that said, what is pan-coronavirus exactly?

Anyway, I feel sorry for the child, who came to our city to study English, and his parents. I just hope the hospital staff treated him accordingly. Most importantly, I hope the experience did not traumatize him.

We’ve already seen how crass and ignorant some Filipinos can be when confronted with a foreign threat, especially when the source of that threat is non-Caucasian.

And what do they do? They generalize. They stereotype. They racial-profile.

Of course, if one of our citizens had been on the receiving end of the evil eye, God forbid, they’d be the first ones to cry “discrimination.”

I don’t understand where this anti-Chinese sentiment is coming from. I don’t see the point, really. Before the Spaniards and the Americans arrived to warp our sense of selves, the people of this archipelago had been trading with the Middle Kingdom. Marrying, too, its subjects.

I know and I get it. We’re talking about a viral outbreak that could be potentially fatal. But there’s no need to exaggerate. Or panic.

The Health secretary has issued this advisory, “Always practice hand hygiene, observe proper cough etiquette, avoid close contact people manifesting flu-like symptoms, avoid contact with farm and wild animals, cook food properly and adopt healthy lifestyles to mount immunity against infections.”

By the way, he made no mention of banning Chinese tourists from our cities. I’m just saying.


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