March 25, 2020
Head of the Political Section of the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, Mr. Hu, has called on all Sierra Leoneans to desist from stigmatizing Chinese nationals.
Hu made the above call after some Chinese nationals travelling around Freetown were referred to as Coronavirus.
‘‘This should not be the case as China has been in the forefront of helping Sierra Leone even when the Ebola was here.No Chinese ever referred to Ebola as Sierra Leone Ebola or Freetown Ebola. Nobody victimized or stigmatized Sierra Leoneans and it is wrong for Chinese to be referred to as Coronavirus.Currently,our doctors are on high alert to help Sierra Leone combat the spread, if there is a case and what these doctors need is support and not stigmatization,” he said.
Mr. Hu said it has been five weeks since the World Health Organization named the disease as novel Coronavirus pneumonia COVID-19, a term that is now widely used across the world.
“However, that has not been the case in the United States, where the top leader and top diplomat have continued to refer it as “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” a stigmatization the WHO has warned against,’’ he said.
The WHO, in naming the disease COVID-19, said it wanted to avoid referring to the virus by a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing.
“So, it’s a surprise that the deliberate use of stigmatized names by people has drawn condemnation from Chinese leaders. This is indeed no time for stigmatization when the world faces a defining global crisis of our time. China, which has been recovering relatively well from the outbreak, is lending a hand to other countries. It has been sending medical supplies and medical teams to countries to help fight COVID-19,” he said.
Mr. Hu called on Sierra Leoneans to support the Chinese people in Freetown rather than calling them coronavirus, which will dampen their spirit.
‘‘Let’s all come together as a family to fight this scourge and put aside stigmatization.’’