In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, let’s NOT be woke
It has been more than three weeks since China first admitted to the world about the pandemic coronavirus outbreak. They had lied about it back in December 2019, reassuring the world that it was nothing to worry about. Since then, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on January 30, well after the coronavirus outbreak spread well beyond China.
On January 31, The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journals published the latest findings of Professor Gabriel Leung MD, Prof Joseph Wu phD, Kathy Leung phD from the University of Hong Kong. According to their simulation model, 75,815 individuals have already been infected in the Greater Wuhan region, seven times higher than the numbers released by the Chinese government. Testimonials from distressed frontline doctors and nurses confirm their estimate.
As of today, almost every continent has countries which issued travel bans to China. The United States, UK, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Israel are among them. Russia and North Korea closed their borders with China. In addition, the United States, Taiwan, Japan and UK have issued quarantine advisories to those who have been to China for the past 14 days, which brings us to the question: “Why has Canada been so laissez faire about this epidemic?”
It seems that our Canadian health officials have been more concerned about alleged racism than getting correct information on the Canadian public in a timely manner. On January 25, when the first case of coronavirus was identified, Toronto Public Health officials said the risks remained low and the virus spread from people to people and show symptoms of fever. They were wrong. At the time there were already studies indicating that the infected do not always show symptoms.
When asked by a CTV reporter which flight the first infected person was on, Toronto Public Health could not give a straight answer. Then, again, on January 31, Health Minister Hajdu said Health Canada maintains there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted by people who are asymptomatic. She was wrong. Chinese health officials had already confirmed multiple asymptomatic transmission cases last week.
On January 28 The York District School Board received a petition signed by thousands of parents calling on the school board to quarantine students. The school board then said to CBC, “What we’re trying really to get at is to [make sure] this situation is not giving rise to any inadvertent racism or any of those things that we could single out a community at this time”.
Except, they were wrong. The petition was signed by mostly Chinese parents who have first-hand understanding of how severe and dire the outbreak is in China. They may have access to information which our health officials and school board officials are not privy to. The mandatory quarantine policy has been reinforced by four countries already. These parents are NOT racists. They are just anxious and worried about their children. They are also a little upset and not impressed by the way our officials handled the communication on this issue altogether.
Civic leaders like Dr Joseph Wong and Avvy Go from the Chinee Canadian National Council said they want to get rid of the “myth” surrounding the virus. While both have done great work in advancing social justice in the Chinese Canadian community, neither of them has any expertise in immunology.
Xenophobia and racism have no place in Canada. But to interpret legitimate health concerns and advocacy for a travel ban to racism is equally despicable. The latest number of cases under investigation have jumped to 43 in Ontario. Why shouldn’t Canada issue a travel ban to people, regardless of ethnicity, who have been to China for the past fourteen days?
It is not racist to heighten alert around this yet unknown disease. I have cancelled all my Chinese New Year celebrations as I learn more about this fast spreading contagious virus. Am I a racist? Many cultural groups and organizations in the GTA either cancelled or rescheduled their Chinese New Year celebration. Are they racist?
Taking precautionary steps is not an over reaction. It is what every responsible citizen should do. By bringing race into the fight against the coronavirus, we may end up exonerating the responsibilities of the individual. And that is dangerous!
Already, there are people who came back from Wuhan who do not exercise self-quarantine. They roam the streets and restaurants freely. Furthermore, they post pictures of their daily outings on WeChat. Why is that acceptable behavior? The first man who contracted the coronavirus from Wuhan had known that he was sick. He had a choice. He could have sought medical treatment in Beijing when he transferred planes there. He did not. He continued his itinerary, putting everyone else at risk. He was selfish and irresponsible. He deserves no sympathy. He should be chastised. We should all be thankful that self-help groups for those who voluntarily quarantine after their return from China have started in the GTA’s Chinese community. These WeChat groups connect families who are in quarantine with local grocery stores, bakeries to deliver food and supplies.
Regressive liberals have a funny way of thinking. They will do anything, including overlooking scientific research, data and facts to reinforce their soft bigotry of low expectations. They will try to let political correctness dictate public health policies. As a result, they do far more harm to the people they claim to protect.
Let’s not be woke about the coronavirus, but conscious of its life-threatening dangers. Let’s take every necessary step in containing it.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s answers, when asked about what he was doing to deal with anti-pipeline protestors, has barely updated—despite Monday being the 12th day of the #ShutDownCanada protests.
Across the country, “Wet’suwet’en solidarity protests” have halted Canadian cargo and passenger trains, and have frequently blocked streets and highways, throwing a major wrench into Canada’s economy.
On Feb. 13, Trudeau told media in Munich that the protests would be dealt with promptly.
“We’re following very closely, I had a long and constructive conversation with Premier Horgan… Obviously, we’re a country of the rule of law, and we need to make sure those laws are followed.”
Now, after arriving from his week-long tour of several African nations, Trudeau re-appeared with a new, familiar message—one that gives no insight as to when or how these problems will be taken care of.
“We had a good meeting with morning with the incident response group, discussions with ministers, I made some phone calls to Indigenous leadership as well as a number of premiers. I understand how worrisome this is for so many Canadians and difficult for many families across the country. We’re going to continue to focus on resolving the situation quickly and peacefully, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Since Trudeau’s first response, CN Rail has been put in a situation where they have to temporarily lay off employees after ceasing operations of its whole network east of Toronto due to protests. VIA Rail has since cancelled over 400 trains nationwide, and these protests, in a country where ‘we need to make sure [the] laws are followed,” has affected over 83,000 passengers.
A number of demonstrations continue to take place important bridges as well, including the International Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls.
Videos have also emerged of street blockades becoming potentially dangerous, as frustrated commuters have been seen keeping their foot on the gas pedal amidst a crowd.
Blockades have continued to cut off trains to the Maritimes, who are now feeling the serious effects.
On Sunday, Nathalie St-Pierre, the Canadian Propane Association president and CEO, told CBC that propane shortages will start to be seen in days, if things do not return to normal promptly.
“This is an emergency. People have to understand that, and those that are protesting have to understand that there needs to be a resumption of the services,” She said.
“We haven’t seen any progress in terms of finding solutions now for the issues of getting the transportation to be back to normal. So it’s very troublesome.”
“Some industries can switch back to oil or other sources, but that’s also going to run out eventually.”
The head of Wuchang’s city hospital in Wuhan is still being treated for coronavirus according to health officials. According to the Chinese government, Dr Liu Zhiming is said to be undergoing resuscitation after contracting the deadly virus but is alive, despite some reports claiming he had died. Many Chinese citizens remain skeptical of the news that Dr Liu remains alive due to previous attempts to cover up deaths of medical personnel.
Dr Li Wenliang died of coronavirus earlier this month. Wenliang was responsible for making knowledge of the coronavirus public and was punished for doing so by Chinese officials. His hospital denied any reports of his death initially before confirming it according to the Daily Mail.
All media outlets were instructed to suppress the coverage of the passing of Dr Li Wenliang. The news of this denial caused a great backlash from the public over the cover-up. Many took to social media to express their rage with the government however their posts were quickly censored.
“He wasn’t allowed to speak. He wasn’t even allowed to die,” wrote one person via the Chinese messaging app WeChat.
“Dr Li Wenliang was only allowed to ‘die’ after most web users had gone to bed,” wrote another person.
Dr Li’s family was paid just over $150,000 after Beijing ruled his death a ‘work place injury’ following the online backlash for the whistleblower.
Liu Fan, 59, was a nurse at Wuchang Hospital who died of the coronavirus after contracting the disease at work last Friday. It’s suspected that Ms. Liu became infected with the disease after failing to get a hazmat suit due to the shortage of medical supplies in Wuhan. The hospital has denied any such rumours.
The hospital released a statement urging all medical workers to protect themselves during work.
It continued: “All neighbourhood clinics need to enforce personal preventative measures according to requirement.”
“In this battle, the virus is cruel. We express our deepest condolences for comrade Liu Fan’s passing”
“We sincerely hope all medical workers remain healthy and will return safe and sound after the battle.”
Chinese authorities have said that those who died from contracting coronavirus in the line of duty should be named martyrs. The Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission said that family members of medical workers who’ve passed should receive financial compensation from the government.
Dr. Liu was the most high-profile medical worker to contract the virus and die and became even more famous after being reprimanded by police and accused of spreading “fake news.” It was in response to a social media post of Dr. Liu, warning of “SARS at a Wuhan seafood market” on December 30. Li’s post came two weeks before the coronavirus broke out in the city.
Bombardier Inc. has announced that it will be selling its rail-building unit to the French-based Alstom SA. The sale marks Bombardier’s departure from the rail business.
Alstom announced plans to secure the deal with Bombardier and major shareholder Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec—a deal worth roughly $9 billion in stock and cash.
“I’m very proud to announce the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation, which is a unique opportunity to strengthen our global position on the booming mobility market,” Henri Poupart-Lafarge, chairman and CEO of Alstom, said in a news release.
“This acquisition will improve our global reach and our ability to respond to the ever-increasing need for sustainable mobility.”
The purchase is an important one for Alstom. In a market with competitors such as the Chinese-government owned CRRC, Alstom say they will be focusing on “further develop[ing] its presence in Quebec, Canada,” with plans for Montreal to become the headquarters for Alstom in North and South America.
Alstom also plans on establishing a centre of excellence for design and engineering, along with other high-tech research and development facilities.
“Alstom is committed to recovering Bombardier Transportation’s full operational and profitability potential with the objective of restoring project execution and margin towards standard level,” the press release reads.
This comes less than a week after Bombardier announced it was exiting the commercial plane business as well. The Trudeau government is not trying to retrieve a $372 million interest-free loan given to Bombardier in 2017, despite the company selling of core parts of its business.
Kristina Shramko has decided to remain in Wuhan in order to stay with her cat, Kitya. Wuhan has been under lockdown since Jan. 23 in the wake of the coronavirus that began there and has now infected at least 67,000 people and killed more than 1,500. The majority of cases have been in the Hubei province, where the city of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is located.
China has so far quarantined more than 50 million people in the Hubei province and all transportation in and out has been shut down.
Shramko can leave her loft in Wuhan, although officers will check her temperature and she is required to wear a mask. Officers patrol the street and and shops to make sure that people comply with the precautions.
Shramko was born and raised in Vancouver and met her boyfriend in Wuhan during a month-long trip to the city. She moved there to be with him about a year prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Shramko’s boyfriend was not in Wuhan at the time of the shutdown due to a business trip. He isn’t allowed to return as per the quarantine rules, so he is currently staying with his family in another province.
Shramko had initially registered herself to be on an evacuation flight when Canadian authorities began chartering flights to get citizens back to Canada, however the strict no-pet policy forced Shramko to make the tough decision to remain in Wuhan to take care of her cat.
“I don’t know when the epidemic will be over so it’s kind of abandoning her in a way, even if I give her to a friend,” Shramko told Business Insider.
Shramko went on to describe the mental conditions of living in quarantine.
“After a month of just being alone and not having that much human interaction, it really takes its toll mentally,” Shramko said
“It’s pretty much a ghost town outside,” she said. “I live directly across from a huge mall and this mall was always packed with people. Even the street to get into the mall’s parking lot was always busy. Now, there are no cars at all and nobody outside.”
Shramko described many of the grocery stores shelves as being barren. She spends her time working on her YouTube channel, watching a Chinese version of Netflix, reading books and playing with Kitya.
She communicates often with her boyfriend and family back in Canada.
“They update me on what they’re hearing about the coronavirus in Canada and I let them know what’s going on in China,” she said.
The Chinese government has extended foreigner visas as a result of the epidemic, however money is getting tight for those forced to stay in quarantine.
“Nobody is working right now so there is no income,” Shramko said. “I’m trying to save as much money as possible since we don’t know when all of this will be over.”
Shramko was initially unphased by the coronavirus lockdown.
“In my mind, a super contagious and deadly virus just didn’t seem real,” she said. “It seemed like something you only saw in movies. After a few weeks, it really kicked in that this was a serious matter.”
Shramko said she understands the circumstances she’s in and doesn’t resent the Chinese government’s handling of the virus.
“I can’t say that I’ve put all my faith in the Chinese government, but I can say that they are doing their best,” she said. “It’s a highly contagious virus, so it’s hard to control.”
Shramko is getting restless to return to Canada now and wishes the government would allow her to take her cat on the plane.
“She’s been there for me throughout this whole quarantine,” Shramko said of her cat. “I should be there for her, too.”