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UC Berkeley deletes post saying xenophobia is "common reaction" to coronavirus

How China is dealing with coronavirus
How China is dealing with coronavirus 04:39

The University of California, Berkeley has apologized Thursday after a now-deleted Instagram post listed xenophobia as a common reaction to the spread of coronavirus. The images from the campus' University Health Services explained how to "manage fears and anxiety" about the fast-spreading and highly contagious illness, which listed common reactions — including xenophobia — that people may have as more information unfolds.

The post, a series of images with information about the virus, was posted the same day the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global health emergency. The list of common reactions included anxiety, a feeling of helplessness, social withdrawal, difficulty concentrating, health vigilance, and anger. But the school's wellness page also included "xenophobia," defined as "fears about interacting with those who might be from Asia and guilt about those feelings." 

"The post has been taken down and we regret any misunderstanding it may have caused," Roqua Montez IV, executive director of communications and media relations at the Berkeley campus, told CBS News.

The response to the post was overwhelmingly negative, with many people suggesting that the post normalizes racism. Twitter user Dustin R. Glasner said, " a proud Cal alum (PhD Infectious Diseases '18) and Asian-American, this is really, truly unacceptable."

And as Twitter user Adrienne Shih pointed out, the document listing xenophobia as a reaction to coronavirus was also available on the school's website. The document, which appears to have been updated in the last few hours, listed "fears about interacting with those who might be from Asia and guilt about these feelings" under common reactions.

According to UC Berkeley's fall enrollment data, roughly 43% of new freshman in fall 2019 are Asian.

While the posts listing xenophobia as a reaction have been taken down, social media users say that deleting the problem does not erase the issue. Many are asking for a response from the school and a formal apology.

Coronavirus, a flu-like illness, has killed more than 200 people, all of whom are in China. More than 9,600 other people in more than a dozen countries have been infected, including six confirmed cases in the U.S. The virus has spread quickly around the world, impacting intercontinental travel and worrying global health officials, who say China is in "urgent" need of medical supplies.

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