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#IWillEatWithYou counters the boycott of Asian outlets over baseless coronavirus fears

The spread of the trending hashtag started with an initiative in Australia to fight racism and xenophobia, where politicians and celebrities jumped in to fight stigma and bust myths.

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi | Updated: February 27, 2020 2:33:25 pm
coronavirus outbreak, covid 19, coronavirus racism, viral news, social media trends, i will eat with you, indian express, People are posting photos of them enjoying Asian cuisine online.

The spread and deaths of the coronavirus COVID-19 has also sparked a disturbing trend in some parts of the world with people from Asia and of Asian descent being targeted. Businesses owned and run by Asians have taken a hit, particularly in the food industry, as people irrationally fear catching the virus at such outlets. To combat this, the #IWillEatWithYou campaign on social media is trying to drum up support for affected businesses and take on xenophobia.

The World Health Organisation has spoken about people being targeted due to stereotypes in a recent report.

“Since the emergence of #COVID19 we have seen instances of public stigmatization among specific populations and the rise of harmful stereotypes,” it said in a recent report. “Stigma occurs when people negatively associate an infectious disease with a specific population. This means that people are being labelled, stereotyped, separated and/or experience loss of status and discrimination because of a potential negative affiliation with #COVID19.”

The spread of the trending hashtag started with an initiative in Australia to fight racism and xenophobia, where politicians and celebrities jumped in to fight stigma and bust myths. Progressive political activist group GetUp! are credited with coming up with the campaign.

“While other restaurants and public spaces are still buzzing, it is the Chinatown restaurants and Asian grocers that stand empty,” the group said in an online post. “Panic around the virus is unfairly impacting Chinese and Asian communities. If we don’t take action – people will lose their jobs, and their livelihoods,” the group said in its appeal.

And soon, people answered their call.

The campaign came even as 30-year-old Cantonese dimsum restaurant Shark Fin House in Melbourne closed last week after reporting an 80 per cent drop in business, according to  a Seven News report. “It’s very hard… With customer fears of coronavirus still high, we can see numbers reducing,” Gabriel Chan, the owner told The Age. “We’re very sad, very unhappy, but we still have to work, so I would tell the people don’t scare, come to the restaurant, support us.”

It wasn’t just Chinese restaurants that suffered. A popular Vietnamese restaurant Bia Hoi too saw a sharp decline in sales. Taking to Instagram owner and chef Jerry Mai appealed all for help. “Chinatown and Glen Waverley are ghost towns right now, diners are staying away because of fears of illness. I’m putting my hand up – my businesses are suffering and I need help,” Mai wrote last week.

However, following the campaign, he said sales had risen. Thanking people for their love, the chef said the support should continue as they are still not out of the woods yet.

To celebrate the special weekend of the leap year, people in the UK will participate in the campaign.

The campaign has started getting momentum elsewhere as well. People in the US and other European nations have been sharing photos of eating out or ordering from various East Asian restaurants.

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As if I needed more reasons to post food pictures? I really like the idea of the #IWillEatWithYou push , encouraging people to eat at Chinese and Asian restaurants and patronizing Chinese and Asian businesses to support them during this coronavirus hysteria and xenophobia. Had the spicy mung bean #noodles and cumin #lamb at @cafechina . I highly recommend checking out Cafe China whenever you’re in midtown NYC. If you need any other Chinese or Asian food recommendations and you want to support these businesses, just hit me up. #chinesefood #sichuanfood #szechuanfood #foodpics #foodgram #foodporn #newyorkeats #newyorkfood #fuckxenophobia #fuckracism #chineserestaurant #wuhanjiayou #wuhanstrong

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Worries over the ever-expanding fallout of the COVID-19 have multiplied globally, with factories idled, trade routes frozen and tourism crippled, while a growing list of nations braced for the illness to breach their borders, said an Associated Press report.

The WHO reported that the number of new cases outside China on Tuesday exceeded the number of new infections inside the country for the first time. The number in China was 412, while the tally in the rest of the world was 459.

About 81,000 people around the globe have been sickened by the coronavirus that kept finding new targets. With Brazil confirming the arrival of Latin America’s first case, the virus had a toehold on every continent but Antarctica.

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