Diaspora fears backlash for ‘India Virus’

Compiled by: Our Bureau

(Our Bureau, May 18) Indians living abroad fear that the increasing use of the term “India virus” to refer to Covid-19’s B.1.617 variant may lead to a rise in hate crime against them. In fact, some news reports suggest that many netizens in UK and US have started pinning the blame on Indians for the resurgence of Covid-19 and the possibility of a lockdown in their regions. A spokesperson for Stop AAPI Hate told India-West that South Asian Americans made up for 1.8% of the cases reported on its portal. The World Health Organization had issued guidelines in 2015 warning against the use of a country’s name to identify diseases or viruses as it would lead to stigmatization. On May 7, the South Asian Journalists Association had issued a statement asking journalists to refrain from using the term “India variant” but not all media houses are following that guideline. The Asian community had faced a similar backlash in 2020 when the first strain of the Coronavirus was referred to as a “Chinese virus” or the “Wuhan virus”.

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