University apologizes for saying xenophobia is 'common reaction' to coronavirus spread

The University of California, Berkeley apologized on Thursday evening for an Instagram posting that listed xenophobia and “fears about interacting with those who might be from Asia” as a common reaction to the spread of coronavirus.

The post has since been deleted following an outcry online.

The World Health Organization is recommending that people take simple precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine.

The UN agency advises people to:

  • Frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap
  • Cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough
  • Seek early medical help if they have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share their travel history with healthcare providers
  • Avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals when visiting live markets in affected areas
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.

Despite a surge in sales of face masks in the aftermath of the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak, experts are divided over whether they can prevent transmission and infection. There is some evidence to suggest that masks can help prevent hand-to-mouth transmissions, given the large number of times people touch their faces. The consensus appears to be that wearing a mask can limit – but not eliminate – the risks, provided they are used correctly.

Justin McCurry

The image, uploaded to the university’s heath services account, sought to explain how to “manage fears and anxiety” about the spread of the highly contagious illness now listed by the World Health Organization as a global public health emergency.

Among the expected reactions listed, which included “anxiety, worry, panic” the posting described: “Xenophobia: fears about interacting with those who might be from Asia and guilt about these feelings”.

Adrienne Shih

Confused and honestly very angry about this Instagram post from an official @UCBerkeley Instagram account.

When is xenophobia ever a “normal reaction”?

January 30, 2020

“The post has been taken down and we regret any misunderstanding it may have caused,” Roqua Montez, executive director of communications and media relations at Berkeley, told CBS News.

Students and alumni had slammed the image on social media, pointing to the fact that the campus has a large Asian-American student population.

The US state department has now warned Americans to avoid all travel to China due to the rapid spread of the disease, which has claimed over 200 lives in China and infected over 9,700 people. Six people have now been confirmed with the disease in the US, as the UK confirmed its first two coronavirus on Friday.


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.