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Associate Professor Carmen Logie on prejudice and fear in the wake of COVID-19

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While a greater number of people across Canada are continuing to practice social distancing, some restaurants have seen fewer customers longer than others. As reported on Toronto.com, some Italian restaurants in Toronto saw a sharpe decline in customers after Italy imposed a nationwide lockdown.

FIFSW Associate Professor Carmen Logie spoke to Toronto.com about the root of these actions.

Carmen Logie, Canada research chair in global health equity and social justice, said the reason people are reacting this way to the COVID-19 pandemic is twofold: a combination of prejudice toward certain groups of people and fear of the unpredictability of the disease.

Logie, who is also associate professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at University of Toronto, said people tend to stigmatize illness because “historically, disease and illness have been thought of and described as something from somewhere else.”

“It’s been a long time of people attaching this foreignness and otherness to illnesses and blaming people,” she added. “There’s all these underlying prejudices and stereotypes that are exacerbated.”

Despite this, Logie said, certain approaches — such as restaurant owners closing their eat-in areas and serving customers in a different way — can be positive while also addressing the importance of social distancing.

“It’s an understanding that maybe people would be more excited to take (the food) home with them. Or maybe pick it up or have it delivered,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a stigmatizing thing. I think it could just be framed that we are taking care of each other — we are taking care of ourselves.”

She added that it is imperative for individuals to step up and do their part to keep themselves and those around them healthy.

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