KEY POINTS

  • The home of a family infected by coronavirus was stoned by unknown individuals
  • Authorities condemned the act and called for understanding
  • Other people afflicted with the disease also experienced such discrimination and hate

In Iloilo, Phillippines, the home of a family whose members tested positive for the coronavirus was stoned by unknown individuals last Friday, April 3. Evidently, the attack occurred after news came out that the 70-year-old patriarch of the family had died of COVID-19 while other members tested positive for the virus.

The family reportedly gave authorities permission to publicly divulge their names earlier so that contact tracing would be easier and anyone who may have been in contact with them could also self-isolate but, unfortunately, this also led unknown individuals to the family's address.

The surviving family members, all of whom are asymptomatic, were at the house under strict home isolation when the stoning happened.

"I strongly condemn the stoning of their family's residence. They didn't choose to get sick," Provincial Board Member Jason Gonzalez told Manila Bulletin. "They don't need stones. They need help and understanding. Lambunao, we are better than this. May this crisis brings out the best in us."

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case of discrimination against people who have tested positive for COVID-19, as many others have experienced it as well. For instance, Ecuador's so-called patient zero was bashed online for becoming the first person to be diagnosed with the coronavirus in the country. Soon after the diagnosis, the family's photos and even addresses were published all over social media, along with rumors of family members allegedly exposing thousands to the disease.

In Indonesia, the name, address and phone number of one of the first two people who tested positive for the coronavirus were leaked online, leading to a flood of messages on WhatsApp. Baseless accusations of the patient contracting the virus after being "rented" by a foreign male client also made the rounds.

In many other places, people don't even have to test positive for the coronavirus to experience discrimination. They need only to look or be Asian to be the recipients of discrimination as the coronavirus seems to be fueling anti-Asian hate crimes, especially after the virus began to spread in New York.

Only last week, a 51-year-old Asian woman was reportedly injured on a city bus in the Bronx when an unidentified woman and three teenage girls allegedly began spewing anti-Asian comments then hit her on the head with an umbrella. The victim reportedly needed stitches for her injury.

Studies have shown that people tend to blame and ostracize the sick when they link the disease to behavior. Unfortunately, in many cases, the stigma that infectious diseases carry can be as devastating as the illness itself.

Medical staff wearing protective clothing take test samples for the COVID-19 coronavirus from a foreign passenger at a virus testing booth outside Incheon international airport near Seoul Medical staff wearing protective clothing take test samples for the COVID-19 coronavirus from a foreign passenger at a virus testing booth outside Incheon international airport near Seoul Photo: AFP / Jung Yeon-je