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People and stores on Spadina Ave. and St. Andrew St. in Toronto's Chinatown neighbourhood, are photographed on Nov. 4, 2019.

Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

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From the Comments is designed to highlight interesting and thoughtful contributions from our readers. Some comments have been edited for clarity. Everyone can read the comments but only subscribers will be able to contribute. Thank you to everyone furthering debate across our site.

Readers respond: Fear over coronavirus prompts school board in Ontario to warn parents about racism against Chinese community

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This is not about racism, but about self-preservation. Hong Kong has closed its borders to China. Is that racism or just being smart?

As usual, the time-worn excuse when an ethnic group is singled out for whatever reason is that it is racism. Well I for one agree with the petition as it makes sense. This is not panic or racism, but erring on the side of caution. In my building, there are some Chinese people that have gone to China for Chinese New Year. They are friends of mine. Will I see them when they return? No – not until the incubation period is over. Is that racism or just being careful and smart? –Amarone


What is China doing? Quarantining an entire province. It is neither racist nor absurd to suggest that people who have recently been to China be subject to some safety measures. –BTrue1


This isn’t a matter of race. It’s a matter of country of origin. I would not feel comfortable with a Caucasian person who had just returned from a trip to Wuhan. –Layla4


There are some who are assuming that because a person is of Chinese background, they are somehow more likely to have the virus. And that is racism. –Steven Forth

‘I am Chinese myself and I have avoided crowded Chinese restaurants.’ How readers are dealing with the coronavirus, plus other letters to the editor

‘Have you been to Wuhan in the last 14 days? Uh, no.’ Readers assess Canada’s reaction to the coronavirus so far, plus other letters to the editor

‘Telling us to calm down seems infinitely less effective than showing us concrete actions.’ Readers react to Canada’s preparations for coronavirus, plus other letters to the editor

People and stores on Spadina Ave. in Toronto's Chinatown neighbourhood, are photographed on Nov. 4, 2019.

Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

Racism is bad, yes. Should people be respectful of others and not rush to judgment? Yes. Being concerned for you children is good though. We have gotten to a place where we are more worried about the slight possibility that someone might have their feelings hurt in the midst of dealing with a possible pandemic.

Is it racist to be concerned if there have been family members returning from the infected area? No! This is common sense. –Comment-Guy

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Asking all Chinese people to stay away from schools for 14 days would absolutely be racist.

Asking all people who travelled to China in the last 14 days, regardless of their heritage, is absolutely not. It just makes sense. –ARIELLEMARIE


Just an interesting note, I am a black woman whose Chinese friends have advised me not to attend any large-scale events in Vancouver where there are a lot of Chinese people gathering. She is concerned for my well-being of being among visitors from China. I don’t think she was being racist. –Ann-Marie Regis


The petition sounds more like unreasonable fear than racism to me, but I've seen plenty of evidence that xenophobia is kicking up a notch.

I find it odd that people are so incensed about the Chinese diet. According to Health Canada, about 1 in 8 Canadians get food-borne illness every year, over 11,000 of those are hospitalized and nearly 250 of them die. –WhistlingInTheDark

Storefronts on Brodview Ave. near Gerrard St. East in one of the Chinatowns in Toronto, on Oct. 10, 2019.

Fred Lum

The engineering folks in the office next to ours are all Chinese; that is, they speak to each other mostly in Mandarin. So it seemed entirely natural to me to ask them, last week, if they had recently travelled to China, or were planning to travel to China this year. No, on both counts, and one less worry for our staff.

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Nonetheless, I know some people are going to get racist about this virus with Chinese-Canadians. I know because I’ve seen a degree of that kind of behaviour. They won’t ask, and they’ll make inferences and comments instead. Just do what’s reasonable for your personal safety, but don’t get ridiculous about it. –slofstra


As a Chinese person, I don’t think measures like asking anyone who recently visited China to stay in self-isolation for two weeks and restrict people movement from pandemic areas are discriminatory. Those are just science-based precautions to contain the spread. At the same time, much of the irrational fear and lashing out in public, including comment sections here, clearly have their roots in prejudice and racism. If you deny that fact, then you are blind to the facts right in front of you. –C. Li


Good grief. There are 1.7 million Chinese in Canada and hundreds of thousands more East Asians. A tiny, tiny handful of those people travelled to China or Wuhan province recently. And some of the recent travellers from Wuhan would also be other races and nationalities.

Demanding a quarantine of recent travellers from the hot zone makes some sense and is probably something the travellers themselves want to happen – nobody wants to be Typhoid Mary. Demanding a quarantine of people based on their skin colour is racist and ridiculous. The majority of them haven’t been anywhere close to China recently.

In terms of statistical risk, the riskier people are probably those who live in the big cities close to an international airport hub – so Toronto and Vancouver. They’re the ones who are sharing public spaces, restaurants, entertainment venues, grocery stores and transit with recent travellers from Wuhan who might be infectious without knowing it. Should the rest of Canada demand a lockdown of Toronto and Vancouver and a round-up of Torontonians and Vancouverites too?

I know people are scared but I think some of you are starting to lose your minds. –Freshycat

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