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Coronavirus Guide

Information for health professionals and the public in the Las Vegas Valley

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Coronavirus: Racism & Xenophobia

About Racism and Xenophobia around Coronavirus (COVID-19):

In the beginning, some people referred to Novel Coronavirus as Wuhan or Chinese Coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially named the virus SARS-CoV2 causing the condition named COVID-19. Naming guidelines for new pathogens follow the rule of not naming them after people, places, ethnic groups, animals or foods because this can be offensive or create a stigma. 

To help combat stigmas around coronavirus, stay current with CDC's updates and recommendations and share facts only, see the links below for up-to-date resources. 

Searching Databases

The following search string, terms, and articles can assist in guiding research on the racism and xenophobia that has stemmed from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Search String:

You can copy and paste the following search string into Google Scholar or any of the UNLV Library databases. See the links below to go directly to a list of results from pre-run searches. You may be asked to sign in with your UNLV ACE Account credentials to access the results and the articles.

Search:   (coronavirus OR COVID-19 OR 2019-nCoV) AND (racism OR racist OR xenophobia)

Results from Database Searches:

Related Search Terms and Keywords:

  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • 2019-nCOV
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
  • epidemic
  • xenophobia
  • racism
  • sinophobia

Reducing Stigma

How can Medical Students, Residents, and Healthcare Professionals Help Reduce Stigma?

CDC recommendations for communicators and public health officials to help counter stigma during COVID-19 include:

  • Maintain privacy and confidentiality of those seeking healthcare and those who may be part of any contact investigation.
  • Quickly communicate the risk or lack of risk from associations with products, people, and places.
  • Raise awareness about COVID-19 without increasing fear.
  • Share accurate information about how the virus spreads.
  • Speak out against negative behaviors, including negative statements on social media about groups of people, or exclusion of people who pose no risk from regular activities.
  • Be cautious about the images that are shared. Make sure they do not reinforce stereotypes.
  • Engage with stigmatized groups in person and through media channels including news media and social media.
  • Thank healthcare workers and responders. People who have traveled to areas where the COVID-19 outbreak is happening to help have performed a valuable service to everyone by helping make sure this disease does not spread further.
  • Share the need for social support for people who have returned from China or are worried about friends or relatives in the affected region.

History of Viruses and Racism

Racism and xenophobia have historically followed epidemics/pandemics similar to COVID-19. The following search terms and articles can assist in guiding research on historical racism that stems from virus and disease outbreaks. Logging into your ACE account may be required for access. 

Search Terms and Keywords:

  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
  • epidemic(s)
  • pandemic(s)
  • viruses
  • xenophobia
  • racism
  • ethnology
  • prejudice

Terms and Definitions

Xenophobia? Racism? 
Key Terms that are commonly used and how they differ:
  • Racism assigns a certain race and/ or ethnic group to a position of power or superiority over others.
  • Xenophobia describes attitudes, prejudices and behavior that reject and exclude others based on the perception that they are outsiders or foreigners.
  • SinophobiaFear of or contempt for China, its people, or its culture.

References and Resources

  1. CDC. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. Published February 11, 2020. Accessed March 17, 2020.
  2. Know the Facts About COVID-19 | Wake Forest Baptist Health. https://www.wakehealth.edu/Stories/Coronavirus/Myths-and-Facts. Accessed March 17, 2020.
  3. Aude Nasr ✸ عود أبو النصر. https://cargocollective.com/audenasr. Accessed March 17, 2020.

Page Author

Mayra Corn, MLIS
UME Liaison Librarian & Technology Manager
UNLV Health Sciences Library

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