Whether it’s this issue of The Saint, other news publications around the world, or common discourse between people of all ages, everyone seems to be talking about the coronavirus. And, due to our society’s tendency to make decisions and opinions out of fear, it makes sense.
Most of what we know about the coronavirus is unknown, with no known vaccine developed as of yet and the number of infections and deaths rising day by day. However, with any major event coupled with uncertainty comes an inundation of fake news, often in the form of unverified Twitter and Facebook posts.
For the coronavirus specifically, this has already led to heightened panic around the world and racism directed towards Chinese and Asian citizens. As a student publication with foundations in honest, unbiased news reporting, it’s our duty to ensure the stories we tell are fully accurate and don’t sway towards the unverified accounts common on social media.
Additionally, as a student with an interest in journalism, I feel a responsibility to encourage readers to seek out reliable news sources when it comes to hot topics like the coronavirus, and to always check sources on clickbait-like articles.
Generally, when seeking out information on the coronavirus, the best sources are public health organisations like the WHO or news publications so long as the particular story is verified by three trustworthy sources.
Additionally, now is not the time for racism or bigotry against any group, particularly Chinese students at St Andrews. We are all in a similar state of uncertainty and possibly fear, and those from China may be more affected emotionally by news of the coronavirus if they have family or friends still in the country, or Wuhan specifically.
So far, coronavirus has not been confirmed in Scotland or anywhere north of York. However, to ensure your health and safety moving forward, follow advice from the University and NHS, which includes washing your hands regularly and phoning your GP or NHS 24 if you present symptoms that include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, or sore throat. This is especially relevant if you have recently travelled to China.
As the coronavirus continues to make headlines and spread, remember to take care of yourself, be kind to others, and seek out the facts carefully. There is no need for unnecessary fear in this time of public panic so long as we educate ourselves and stay on top of our health.