Chinese New Year 2020 and the Wuhan Coronavirus Epidemic

At the time of this writing, it will already be Lunar New Year in East Asia. But apparently this year is going to be (and already is) very different than previous Lunar New Year celebrations because of two words circulating across social media and TV broadcasts.

That’s right: in what’s now being coined as the “Wuhan coronavirus” (武漢冠狀病毒) everyone from leading scientists and health officials from across the globe to politicians to ordinary constituents are talking about its spread—and subsequent, steadily rising death toll.

Over the last few days, as more developments have emerged, the fear factor has also amplified significantly:

Revolting footage shows Chinese woman eating a whole bat at a fancy restaurant as scientists link the deadly coronavirus to the flying mammals

Stocks Plunge After U.S. Confirms Second Case Of Coronavirus

Panic and Criticism Spread on Chinese Social Media Over Coronavirus

Coronavirus is driving sales of face masks, a game called Plague, and an ‘I Survived Coronavirus 2020’ T-shirt

Even here in my home state and even home county, there are reports of folks currently being hospitalized, monitored and treated for this new strain of a deadly virus. With all this talk and extensive news coverage, I didn’t want to believe that it was spreading so quickly—and why is it only spreading among East, Northeast, and Southeast Asians the most?

As you can imagine, there are already conspiracy theories popping up as quickly as the alleged infection rate:

Can we please bring in a journalist or scholar who knows what is going on here to sincerely talk about this?

The fact that the virus appears to have originated in China seems to have exacerbated the opportunity to spread misinformation, says Jen Grygiel, assistant professor in communications specializing in memes and social media at Syracuse University. “When psychological states are peaked and people are anxious, they’re more apt to share [inaccurate] information,” they tell Rolling Stone. “Given the strained relations between China and the U.S., there’s even more anxiety there.”

~ EJ Dickson, Coronavirus Is Spreading — And So Are the Hoaxes and Conspiracy Theories Around It (january 2020)

As I have also been fact-checking many of the Tweets being written and posted by fellow netizens in real-time, I do sense that there is a growing xenophobic sentiment brewing here in the States towards those of Chinese origin (the dictionary term is Sinophobia), as Professor Grygiel points out in the Rolling Stones article that I am quoting from.

Perhaps this has something to do with the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China—that has been unfolding since around May of 2018?

Or just another media distraction from Trump, his White House staff and associates who are all sweating nervously over the impeachment trials happening in the Senate right now? As if possible war with Iran isn’t enough?

Or the time he called off war with North Korea at quite literally the last minute? Remember that?

At the very least my fellow Americans: for the love of God—please study your geography in school. Seriously, this is embarrassing af:

It kinda reminds me of that one incident last year when Fox News staffers miswrote their story banner to say: “TRUMPS CUTS U.S. AID TO 3 MEXICAN COUNTRIES”

Honestly, this is my only reaction to such stupidity:

In slightly related news, I did manage to find one news article about the flu epidemic right here in the United States too:

Something far deadlier than the Wuhan coronavirus lurks near you, right here in America

So remember: stay home when you’re sick, wash your hands often, take your vitamins…and get vaccinated when possible (especially when you’re aren’t already ill or frail).

I promise my next column won’t be as depressing as this one (hint: it’s about a certain blue hedgehog 😉), but I feel compelled to write about the topic since the coronavirus media hype is trending everywhere at the moment.

Oh yeah, and Happy Year of the Rat to all my Chinese, Taiwanese and other East, Northeast and Southeast Asian friends!


Until next time,

Joshua (陳祈安)

P. S. If there is only a single shred of good that is coming out of this developing story for me, it’s that it is actually making me consider pursuing a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) degree later this year. If I concurrently do decide to pursue an MBA or another field as well—heck, even better! 🤣🤣😎


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