The images are apocalyptic, and the torrent of hysterical news stories are enough to make anyone reach for a face mask, or a hazmat suit.
But so far at least the coronavirus cannot even be compared to the far deadlier influenza virus.
And in Canada, with only a few mild cases, this is the biggest threat.
A severe outbreak of ignorance and racism.
When a popular Toronto blog, reviewed a new Chinese restaurant on Instagram on Monday, the post quickly received a torrent of racist comments.
And nearly 9,000 parents in the York school district – an area north of Toronto – signed a petition demanding students who had traveled to China in the last 17 days be prevented from attending school.
“This has to stop. Stop eating wild animals and then infecting everyone around you,” wrote one petition signer. “Stop the spread and quarantine yourselves or go back.”
With Chinese Canadians being targeted by bigots for no good reason.
Just like they were during the SARS epidemic, as Globe editor Adrian Lee remembers.
I remember the weight of the textbook-laden backpack I was trucking that morning. I remember the gratitude I felt when I saw a seat open up on the subway car. And I remember that I’d barely settled into it when the person next to me bolted up, put a mask on his face, and backed away. I remember how he stared at me with disgust.
He saw me as Chinese by both of the word’s definitions. I was ethnically Chinese – Han, to be precise, as 92 per cent of China’s population is. I was therefore, in his panic-blinded eyes, from China, and because of my body’s presumed geographic proximity, I was an inherent health risk, even though I was born and forged in Canada.
As they have been since the days of the head tax, and as they are now.
Not just by low bigots like that one, but sadly also by those who should know better...
And legions of haters on the internet spewing bigotry and fake news who don't seem to care who is hurt by their ignorance.
Today my son was cornered at school by kids who wanted to “test” him for #Coronavirus just because he is half-Chinese. They chased him. Scared him. And made him cry.— Dr. Nadia Alam (@DocSchmadia) January 30, 2020
I was the same age when I was bullied for being Pakistani.
It’s 2020. I thought things had changed by now... 💔
It's all absolutely disgusting, and all I can say is thank goodness for Justin Trudeau.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to stay united and warned against the rise of discrimination as fears of the coronavirus spread.
"There is no place in our country for discrimination driven by fear or misinformation," Trudeau said at a Lunar New Year celebration at a banquet hall in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto. "This is not something Canadians will ever stand for."
It's clear to me that some Canadians are using the fear of an epidemic as an excuse to discriminate against Chinese and Asian Canadians, and it's got to stop.
If Canada isn't going to fragment further.
We can and must do better....
I can assure everybody that Canada's health workers stand ready to defeat the Corona virus. But we need everybody to defeat the double threat of racism and xenophobia. Stand up for Chinese Canadians and don't let a virus divide us. https://t.co/FgFXnhgipt via @torontostar— 🇨🇦 Simon 🏴 🌈🏂 (@montrealsimon) January 29, 2020