When the novel coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China – the unknown and new virus was initially referred to as the “Wuhan virus” or “China virus.” Outbreaks have always been associated with places and regions, such as the Spanish Flu and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Nevertheless, many are unaware of the repercussions of associating a country with a disease.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment across regions, including in the Americas and Southeast Asia. Former United States (US) president, Donald Trump used the term “China virus” even after an official name was given to the disease. He also urged his supporters not to call it coronavirus, saying that “Corona sounds like a place in Italy, a beautiful place. It’s Corona? No. It’s the China virus.”
In the past two weeks, the US has seen a number of violent attacks against elderly Asian Americans, raising concerns of anti-Asian racism amid the pandemic. One of the cases involved an 84-year-old Thai grandfather, Vicha Ratanapakdee, who was brutally shoved to the ground while walking in San Francisco.