In Australia, the Victorian health minister Jenny Mikakos says hospitals have reported racism toward both medical staff and patients as fears of coronavirus grow.
Mikakos told reporters at the Royal Children’s hospital in Melbourne on Thursday:
“Fear and anxiety around this coronavirus is not an excuse for racist behaviour. We will not tolerate it here in our public hospitals. People cannot pick and choose the doctors and nurses that attend to them.”
The director of emergency medicine at the Royal Children’s, Dr Stuart Lewena, said a member of their medical staff was told by the parents of a child they were treating last week that “they weren’t comfortable with her treating their child due to the risk of coronavirus, and it was clear that message was said on the basis of her race.”
“We intervened on that stage to highlight to that family that message was not acceptable and we’ve been supporting that staff member.”
Lewena said three other staff members at the hospital had since reported that they had also had racist remarks directed toward them about coronavirus, but they had just “tolerated it.” He said staff had been told not to tolerate those comments, and the hospital provided staff with scripts for how to respond to racism linked to the coronavirus.
“Understandably if a person is confronted with such a message often words don’t come easily to hand. So we thought it would be useful to give our staff some example scripts where we could both acknowledge the stress and the anxiety and the paranoia underlying that comment, but nonetheless express in no uncertain terms that we viewed that comment as inappropriate, that the department fully supports our staff to continue treating that patient, and that we don’t want to tolerate what we see as racism.”
Australia travel ban for China extended
Australia enacts Coronavirus emergency response plan
Travel restrictions on South Koreans ‘excessive’, says minister