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When the fear is worse than the disease

FILE: People wear masks as a precaution due to the coronavirus outbreak as they arrive at the International terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday, January 25, 2020. Canadian health officials announced a first presumed case in Ontario after the illness has sickened more than 1,200 people and killed at least 41 in China, the epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

In today’s Big Story podcast, in Canada, the coronavirus is not a deadly threat. But lots of people are suffering anyway. The spectre of a respiratory illness from China has brought back both the fear sparked by SARS in 2003 and the racism and stereotypes that accompanied it.

From stock photos of Chinese restaurants used to illustrate stories on the local impact, to supposedly “funny” jokes about the names of noodle shops and other businesses, and the more overt instances of hate speech and harassment, Asian Canadians are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus’s impact in Canada at the same time that some of them are also fearing for friends and family back home.

GUEST: Evelyn Kwong, Toronto Star

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify.

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.