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Chinese Canadians warn against a repeat of the racism they faced during SARS

Last Updated Jan 29, 2020 at 12:16 pm MDT

A woman dons a surgical mask in Toronto's Chinatown district on Jan. 28, 2020. (PHOTO: Michael Talbot, CityNews)

TORONTO — Members of Toronto’s Chinese community say the racism they experienced during the SARS epidemic must not be repeated during the current outbreak of a new form of coronavirus.

The cautions came at a news conference in Toronto where community leaders and local politicians sounded the alarm about a rising tide of anti-Chinese sentiment in light of the outbreak.

The head of one legal clinic serving the city’s Asian community says she recalls seeing Chinese tenants evicted in 2003 over unfounded fears that they were carrying SARS, a respiratory illness from the same family of viruses as the current coronavirus.

Civic leaders say such attitudes have no place in the city and warn members of the community are more likely to be harmed by racist attitudes than to contract the coronavirus.

The two confirmed cases of the virus discovered so far in Ontario involve a married couple living in Toronto, while a presumtive case has been reported in British Columbia.

The virus has sickened nearly 6,000 people and killed more than 130 in China, but has not been declared an international emergency by international health authorities.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2020.




The Canadian Press