‘We are not the virus’: Chinese community’s desperate plea
THE Chinese community has issued a desperate plea, urging Brisbane's public not to blame their nationality for the coronavirus as they battle through abuse and racism.
Australian Chinese community members say they are being discriminated against, shunned on public transport, their kids name-called at school, refused at restaurants and residential properties, alongside racist comments online about Chinese populated suburbs.
It comes as "many" Chinese students began voluntarily isolating themselves yesterday to protect their community.
University of Queensland Chinese Association of Postgraduates and Scholars urged Brisbane citizens not to be "afraid of Chinese students and scholars".
"We are not the virus," a spokesman said.
"We will protect ourselves from the virus and also protect others.
"We have got (a lot) of help from our Chinese organisations in Brisbane - frankly we need more.
"We do hope that our university and Australian government can support us."
The association also said anyone who has returned from China should not be deemed as "scary".
It comes as a petition to keep children returning to school after visiting China on Brisbane's southside continues to gain momentum, with over 4700 signatures supporting an exclusion period for students to help control the spread of the virus.
A University of Queensland Chinese student said fake news alerts sent out recently also caused panic within the community.
"People try to keep their distance in public … we find it offensive, it was terrible," she said.
"A friend sent her kids to school and her kids were called bad things by others.
"Another friend went to a restaurant yesterday and was not welcomed by waiters, just because they thought he might be in contact with people carrying the virus."
Queensland Chinese Forum Honorary President Dr Kee Cheung OAM said although there were no confirmed cases in the state, the community was experiencing discrimination.
"There are a lot of malicious messages circulating among the community," he said.
"For example, people are saying not to go to areas with large Chinese populations and these messages are making people panic.
"I also heard one case where Chinese students were refused entry by their landlord after they returned from China … they could be homeless."
"(The discrimination) needs to stop … there is no need to panic - be alert and not alarmed and trust the government system."
But Secretary-General of Queensland Chinese United Council Michael Ma, who helped establish the Coronavirus Emergency Committee, said people need to remain calm and be 'alert and not alarmed'.
The committee is currently doing food drops to those who are voluntarily isolating themselves to protect the community.
"As a community, we have been very careful and responsible," he said.
"We are dropping the essentials to people who are staying at home to protect the community because they can't go to public places like supermarkets."
Mr Ma said the Chinese community is doing well despite the discrimination and those voluntarily isolating themselves were doing so purely as a precaution to protect the wider community.