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February 9, 2020 – The Lesson We Didn’t Learn From SARS –

The Lesson We Didn’t Learn From SARS

In recent weeks, Toronto has been gripped by a type of fear it has not felt in almost 17 years.

When SARS arrived in 2003, I was the Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt – ground zero in Canada. The Scarborough Grace Hospital, in the heart of the riding, was the hotbed of the virus.

The SARS outbreak was the biggest test that Scarborough-Agincourt had ever faced. People stockpiled supplies and did not leave their homes for weeks on end. Community doctors were fighting to save patients. Two of my staff were placed in quarantine, after visiting the Scarborough Grace in the early days of the outbreak.

Many of my Chinese constituents bore the brunt of public fear and anger, facing discrimination and racial slurs directed at them. Local Chinese businesses faced a significant downturn in business.

In 2003, I received many messages from Chinese-Canadian constituents expressing their sadness at becoming the subject of xenophobia and discrimination. To help mitigate the backlash, I worked with community stakeholders by holding town halls and encouraging support of local businesses.

17 years later, in the face of the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, Toronto residents are understandably frightened.

This time, Canada was ready. I have received personal assurances from the doctors at the Scarborough Grace Hospital that they were ready and prepared for any potential coronavirus outbreak.

I am disappointed to see the re-emergence of behaviours that I thought we left behind in 2003. It appears that we have not learned from the past that, in times of need, we have to work together. Actions such as leaving nasty comments on social media, or enforcing stereotypes, at the expense of Chinese community members, are not ways to deal with this issue. Medically, we were ready, but we still have a lot to learn about facing community issues together.

Today, as in 2003, I stand with the residents of Scarborough-Agincourt as we support each other in this time of need.

I urge all Torontonians to:

  • source facts from the official Public Health Agencies;
  • maintain a high level of personal hygiene;
  • don’t listen to or spread rumours; and,
  • be good to one another.

In the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, we have “nothing to fear but fear itself”.

 

我们没有从非典中汲取教训

 

近几周,多伦多人心惊肉跳,被近17年来从未有过的恐惧所笼罩。

当非典于2003年到来时,我是士嘉堡——爱静阁(Scarborough-Agincourt)的国会议员,当时此地是加拿大非典的病源地。士嘉堡慈恩医院处于本区的中心,也是该病毒的温床。

非典爆发是士嘉堡——爱静阁曾经面临的最大考验。人们团积物资,并且连续数周不出家门。社区医生当时为拯救患者而战。我的两名员工在疫情爆发初期参观了士嘉堡慈恩医院后被隔离。

我许多华裔选民首当其冲,承受着公众对他们恐惧和愤怒的冲击,面对着针对他们的侮辱和种族的歧视。中国本地企业面临着重大的业务下滑。

2003年,我收到了许多加拿大华裔选民的信息,他们对自己成为仇外情绪和歧视的对象表示感到悲伤。为了减轻冲突,我与社区利益相关者一起举办了会议,并鼓励支持当地企业。

17年后,面对新型冠状病毒的爆发,多伦多居民对病毒的害怕是可以理解的。

这次,加拿大已经准备好了。我得到了士嘉堡慈恩医院医生的亲自保证,他们已经准备好应对任何可能性的冠状病毒的爆发。

我很失望地看到我以为我们留在2003年的行为却再次出现了。看来我们并没有从过往学会在危难时我们必须共同努力。诸如在社交媒体上发表恶心的评论,或对华人社区成员存有成见并牺牲其利益等行为,这都不是解决这一问题的方法。在医学上,我们已经做好了准备,但我们仍然需要学习很多有关共同面对社区问题的知识。

今天,与2003年一样,我与士嘉堡——爱静阁(Scarborough-Agincourt)的居民站在一起,在这个时候我们应该相互支持。

我敦促所有多伦多居民:

-从官方公共卫生机构获取事实;

-高度保持个人卫生;

-不要听信或散布谣言;及,

-对其他人的态度要友好。

 

用富兰克林·罗斯福(Franklin D. Roosevelt)的话说,我们“没有什么可害怕的,唯一值得恐惧的就是恐惧本身。”