‘We are dealing with sick people, not criminals’- DDM on Coronavirus
Urges persons to desist from victimising persons infected or suspected to have virus
Information and Education Manager at the Department of Disaster Management, Mrs Chrystall Kanyuck-Abel has called on members of the public and media to avoid victimising persons infected or suspected to be infected with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Addressing members of the media on Friday, March 6, 2020 at the Government Information Service conference room in RJT Edifice, Kanyuck-Abel said: “I would really emphasise that we be really responsible how we talk about persons who are at risk because I am sure you would have seen it in the international media, even from very high level of political figures internationally, they are really stirring that fear in a way that has caused certain persons to become victimised.”
She continued: “So when you are ordering the people who are at risk, you are feeding into a climate of fear, you are feeding into an Asian kid on the street getting beat-up. But, we could see how rumour spread on our small island and that might put people at risk, so just a reminder, we are dealing with sick people, not criminals.”
In the United States, for example, the US Department of Education has been urging school officials nationwide to address allegations that Asian students have been discriminated against over fears of the coronavirus, telling them that they are required to address such incidents under civil-rights law.
In a statement to educational leaders, the department’s Office for Civil Rights last week noted an increase in news reports regarding stereotyping, harassment and bullying directed at people believed to be of Asian descent, including students.
Restaurants and businesses with Asian or Asian American owners from California to New York report seeing drops in sales.
Keep pushing Coronavirus stories
Kanyuck-Abel then went on to urge members of the media to continue educating the public on the virus.
She said, since the Virgin Islands' first Coronavirus scare last week, persons are now paying more attention.
“Keep the stories coming in, even though it seems repetitive to you; there are certain people that are just now paying attention,” she remarked.
Meanwhile, a WhatsApp group has been created to communicate with the press on the virus, and the government also has a created an e-platform www.bvigov.vg/novel-coronavirus-info to share information on the virus, and others such as Chickungunea and Tuberculosis.
According to Worldometer, there are 107,944 cases of the coronavirus, 3,665 deaths, and 60,923, 43,356 infected patients with 37,314 in a mild condition and 6,042 in a serious or critical condition.
Worldometer is an online platform that features live world statistics on population, government and economics, society and media, environment, food, water, energy and health.