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Xenophobic intolerance spreads in Africa as coronavirus fears on rise

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Facing the risk of the possible spread of a dangerous coronavirus that has already claimed more than 2,000 people’s lives, all but six of them in mainland China, African people become hostages of the situation of growing racist and xenophobic attitudes toward Chinese people who reside in African countries.

A risk of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Africa increases day by day fueling the fears of a possible epidemic in the nearest future. So far, there has only been one reported infection on the continent. But fear of infection is fueling discrimination against ethnic Chinese.

In the light of foregoing, just the other day one of the most famous people on the planet, Bill Gates in his speech during a presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Seattle warned that the coronavirus could severely impact health systems on the African continent.

The billionaire founder of Microsoft and healthcare philanthropist was quoted as saying that the virus is more concerning that Ebola.

“This disease, if it’s in Africa it’s more dramatic than if it’s in China, even though I’m not trying to minimise what’s going on in China in any way,” he said.

In other cases, many Twitter and Facebook posts blame Chinese people (or people presumed to be Chinese) for creating and spreading the virus. Chinese people in Asia and Asian people around the world say they’ve been treated with suspicion since the virus made international headlines.

The current situation is similar to a previous outbreak. In 2002, a different pneumonia-causing virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) emerged in China’s Guangdong Province and took away the lives of almost 800 people around the world.

Now there is a need to uncouple the spread of the deadly disease from the place where it supposedly derives to reduce racist attitudes among members of the public. It is up to people including politicians, celebrities, and media to convey all the truth and the real situation to the masses.

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