BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Discrimination of any kind is undoubtedly heartrending and hurtful for people. Especially when it is directed at those from a region or a country that are doing all they can to fight against the spread of an infectious disease, such as the current novel coronavirus.
If they are not willing to extend a helping hand, the least other people can do is not show any resentment towards them.
Yet, signs of discrimination have surfaced both within the country against people from Hubei province and in other parts of the world against Chinese people or even those of Asian origin.
The fear of the disease which has spread rapidly throughout China has provoked racial abuse against anyone perceived to be Chinese.
And it is not just individuals who are guilty of such prejudice, some media organisations have really gone too far by using inflammatory language and discriminatory visuals when reporting on the outbreak.
Australia's Herald Sun blazoned "China Kids Stay Home" on its front page. A French local paper ran articles headlined "New Yellow Peril" and "Yellow Alert".
In some parts of Europe, some people of non-Chinese Asian heritage have even felt the need to make clear that they are not Chinese.
Throughout history, the seemingly inexorable nature of such health threats has led to those perceived as unleashing it being scapegoated.
And as João Rangel de Almeida, a member of the epidemic response group at the London-based medical charity Welcome Trust told The Financial Times: "Diseases are a great tool to magnify social trends and tensions."
We know that such discrimination will never vanish. Even some well-educated people have deep-rooted phobias against people of particular groups or ethnicity.
But while it would be naive to think that such prejudice will completely disappear, that does not mean it should be tolerated or everyone is willing to turn a blind eye to it.
That many people in Berlin came to the rescue of a Chinese girl who was attacked for wearing a face mask shows that not everyone has succumbed to a phobia of anyone Chinese or who looks Chinese.
When China is making all-out efforts fighting against the novel coronavirus, it needs help from the rest of the world.
That is why Chinese people appreciate the increasing number of countries extended a helping hand to it in its efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
While this speaks volumes about the concern and sympathy of their counterparts in other countries, more empathy needs to be shown to those for whom sympathy has been lacking.
No matter the origin of the outbreak, even if a few people were at fault, not everyone from that place should be tarred with the same brush.
China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media organisations.