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‘Coronaphobia’ is spreading in Canada

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TORONTO —
An inflated perception of the risks of COVID-19 could be spurring xenophobia and impacting the mental health of Canadians, according to two professors now cautioning against “coronaphobia.”

In a new editorial in the scientific Journal of Anxiety Disorders, University of Regina psychology professor Gordon J.G. Asmundson and University of British Columbia psychiatry professor Steven Taylor write that they worry fears about the novel coronavirus are “having a significant psychological impact” on the public.

They cited a public opinion poll from early February by Angus Reid which found that, out of roughly 1,300 Canadians polled, one in three were worried about becoming infected.

Twelve per cent said that they had started avoiding public spaces, and 33 per cent said that they were not confident that their province’s health services would protect them in the event of the virus spreading across Canada.

The potentially deadly virus has been dominating headlines since before it was given an official name. The virus has captured public attention due to uncertainties over how the disease spreads as well as the rapid escalation in confirmed cases.

As of Friday, more than 76,000 people have contracted the virus globally, with the vast majority of those cases occurring in China, where the outbreak began. More than 2,100 people have died.

Although reporting on the outbreak is important, the professors say that being unable to escape discussion of COVID-19 may be affecting Canadians’ behavior and decisions to a degree that is disproportionate to the risk they face from the disease itself.

There have been nine confirmed cases of the virus in Canada. Since receiving treatment, three people from Ontario have officially recovered in hospital, including the very first person to test positive in Canada.

Nevertheless, surgical masks have sold out in many stores across Canada, and more than 40 per cent of Canadians reported in the Angus Reid poll that they were consciously washing their hands more frequently.

XENOPHOBIA RISING

However, the authors write that the most visible way that “coronaphobia” may be affecting Canadians’ behavior may not be changes to their hygiene practices, but an increase of reports of xenophobia within the country.

The editorial pointed out that since COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China, “there have been numerous reports of xenophobia directed towards Chinese people.”

They cite examples of Chinese restaurants seeing a downturn in business in Canada, Chinese nationals being barred from certain restaurants and cruise ships refusing Chinese travellers.

They aren’t the first to flag the discriminatory attitudes. This week, a non-profit group supporting Chinese restaurant owners put out a press release saying that business has dropped “by at least 50 per cent,” with some restaurants seeing an 80 per cent decrease.

The Calgary Chinese Community Service Association released a statement in early February saying they worried that rhetoric around the virus was “demonizing,” their community.

Ming Yang told CTVNews.ca that her holiday plans were ruined when Norwegian Cruise Lines decided not to accept passengers with Chinese, Hong Kong or Macau passports.

“I told them Chinese people do not equal coronavirus,” she said in a phone interview last week. “This is discriminatory. This is discrimination.”

REPEATING HISTORY

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, posted on Twitter in late January that she was concerned about racism and “stigmatizing comments on social media directed to people of Chinese and Asian descent.”

She urged people not to make assumptions about others.

According to the new editorial, this is not unusual to see during an outbreak.

“The rise of infection-related xenophobia has been reported in many previous epidemics and pandemics, and appears to be an unfortunately common response when people are threatened with an infection that originates from outside of their community,” the professors wrote.

“More research is needed to understand the relationship between coronaphobia and coronavirus related xenophobia.”

The editorial said that in past pandemics and viral outbreaks, sensationalized headlines and misinformation have “been shown to fuel health-related fears.”

“An important question is whether healthcare systems throughout the world are ready to deal with the surge of so-called ‘worried well’ patients; that is, the surge into hospital emergency rooms of people who misinterpret their bodily sensations as signs of potential infection with the 2019-nCoV coronavirus,” the professors wrote.

“It is vitally important to understand the psychosocial fallout of 2019-nCoV, such as excessive fear (or lack of concern and due caution) and discrimination, and to find evidence-based ways of addressing these issues.”

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Coronavirus cases in Canada up by over 450, total nears 12,000 – Global News

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The number of novel coronavirus patients in Canada continues to grow, as the country hit more than 11,000 total cases on Friday.

According to data from Public Health Canada, cases reached 11,747 as of 11 a.m. EST on April 3, up by more than 450 from the day before.

The total deaths in Canada is at 152, which is an increase of more than a dozen people.


READ MORE:
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1 million people worldwide

Quebec still holds the highest total cases, with 5,518. However, the most number of deaths have been reported in Ontario, at 67 of 3,255 cases, according to the data.

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Quebec’s death toll was at 36 as of April 3.

One day earlier, Canada’s total cases broke the 10,000 mark.

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PHAC reports that community transmission makes up 64 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 cases, meaning people who caught the infection without travelling or being in close contact with a traveller.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

However, the extent of community transmission is difficult to track through these numbers, as experts believe many people are asymptomatic.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, cautioned that the numbers won’t reflect what’s happening “right now,” because it doesn’t show the point in time when people became sick.

“What you’re seeing is what happened to someone when they were symptomatic at least two weeks ago,” she said at a recent press conference.


READ MORE:
Phone data shows Canadians avoiding restaurants, transit, stores, offices during COVID-19

“So even if you’re not hearing of cases in your community, it doesn’t mean there is no risk of exposure. We must all consider that anyone could be infected and keeping our two-metre distance is the safest bet.”

Tam said this week is “crucial” to see if physical distancing measures and closures have made an impact on the outbreak.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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COVID-19 researcher gains Canadian citizenship through historic virtual ceremony – Global News

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A University of Manitoba professor who has gained government funding to research solutions to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic was granted Canadian citizenship — without having to leave his home.

Dr. Adolf Ng took part in the first-ever virtual citizenship ceremony Thursday, according to a social media post from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, in order to meet what they called an “urgent need to facilitate COVID-19 research.”

“His new Canadian citizenship and passport allows him to perform essential work related to combatting COVID-19 and saving Canadian lives,” the ministry said in a follow-up Tweet.

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Citizenship ceremonies and tests have been otherwise cancelled due to the pandemic and resulting public health orders prohibiting large public gatherings.

Ng, who teaches supply chain management at U of M’s Asper School of Business, received $258,900 from Research Manitoba last month for research projects in both Canada and Wuhan, China, to find solutions to supply chain issues in Canada.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau closes Canadian borders to foreign travellers


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau closes Canadian borders to foreign travellers

The research project is one of dozens that have been partially funded by the federal government in order to ramp up Canada’s research and development into solutions to battle the pandemic, including searches for possible vaccines.

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Ng told the University of Manitoba Today news magazine that he was honoured to be granted his citizenship through the unusual ceremony, which has never been performed in Canada before.


READ MORE:
How long will coronavirus measures last in Canada? Experts say June or July

“What an extraordinary way to complete my citizenship journey!” he said.

“The officers in IRCC were really, really accommodating, and I greatly appreciate their efforts. I really want to attend a physical ceremony someday.”

The university says Ng’s research project is expected to begin later this month.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus: After shipment seized from Canada, FBI redistributing nearly 1M masks and gloves – Global News

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Medical supplies shipped from Canada to a New York man accused of price-gouging are now being redistributed to doctors and nurses amid the new coronavirus pandemic, according to U.S. authorities.

Baruch Feldheim, 43, was arrested on Monday in Brooklyn and charged with lying to federal agents after he allegedly sold a doctor approximately 1,000 N95 masks and other medical materials for $12,000, a roughly 700 per cent markup, according to the FBI.

READ MORE: Trudeau sidesteps questions on whether China’s coronavirus data is trustworthy

Feldheim was also charged with assaulting FBI detectives after allegedly coughing on them during his arrest, claiming to have COVID-19, the agency said in a statement.

U.S. court documents allege that Feldheim acquired and resold the personal protective equipment out of an auto repair shop in New Jersey and his residence in Brooklyn.

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The FBI allege about “eight skids of surgical masks” arrived from Canada. The agency did not respond to questions about who in Canada shipped the supplies.

“According to records from Customs and Border Protection, on or about March 25, 2020, [Feldheim’s company] received a shipment by truck from Canada of approximately eight skids of surgical face masks,” an FBI affidavit says.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections


Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections

The stockpile of supplies included 192,000 N95 respirators, 130,000 surgical masks and nearly 600,000 medical-grade gloves, the FBI said. Agents also recovered surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant.

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According to the FBI, a doctor told agents he went to pick up his order at an auto repair shop in New Jersey, which was being used as a warehouse, he saw enough materials, including hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, cleaning agents, and surgical supplies “to outfit an entire hospital.”

READ MORE: Counterfeit Chinese-made face masks pulled offline after Global News probe

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said Thursday those supplies are now being distributed to health care workers in New York and New Jersey. The HHS said it used the Defense Production Act to take possession of the items and will pay Feldheim “fair market value.”

James Moriarty, Feldheim’s defense lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Global News, but Reuters reported that Moriarty had denied the charges. Feldheim has been released on a US$50,000 bond and a promise not to deal in medical equipment before his trial.

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Some provinces, including Ontario, have passed emergency legislation that could see price gougers of essential items face jail time amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE: Scammers have never had a more target-rich environment amid coronavirus pandemic — experts

New York has been one of the states hardest hit by the deadly virus, where hospitals have been overwhelmed by patients and there is an urgent need for personal protective gear.

As of Friday morning, there have been more than 92,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, including 51,800 in New York City. More than 2,400 people with COVID-19 have died in the state, which has the largest number — around 38 per cent — of confirmed cases in the U.S.






0:49
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

Across the U.S. there are more than 245,000 cases of the deadly virus that have been confirmed and more than 6,000 deaths.

U.S. officials called the case a blatant example of hoarding of medical supplies and that it was the first of many price-gouging investigations related to COVID-19 equipment currently underway.

“If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door,” Attorney General William Barr said in the announcement.

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“The Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working tirelessly around the clock with all our law enforcement partners to ensure that bad actors cannot illicitly profit from the COVID-19 pandemic facing our nation.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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