As mass hysteria surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to heighten, the internet has run rampant with various information, some of which is true and some of which is not.
It is not uncommon for online news and social media to blow up during crisis times; socials are the quickest way that people spread information, and are also often where people go to find relief from news about the crisis.
There is common sentiment that COVID-19 originated from the bat species and consumption of bats as food in China. There is not conclusive proof of this, but this phenomenon has led to dangerous outcomes in Peru as well as brought about racist implications.
In Peru, there have been mass gatherings of local citizens to attack local bat populations, as people are storming caves with torches in an attempt to exterminate all bats. In the village of Culden, these hate groups killed nearly 300 animals by attacking the bat community’s caves with fire. Peru’s National Service of Wild Forests and Fauna were able to intervene and save the remaining 200 hats of the community, but this act of violence is uncalled for.
The Agency has spoken out asking Peruvians and the rest of the world to keep bats safe, as they actually do serve to protect humans. In their press release, they wrote: “70 percent of the [bat] species in the world feed off insects, many of which are harmful to agriculture and our health, like mosquitoes that spread dengue and other diseases”. There is no scientific benefit to exterminating bats.
This is an important addition to the rhetoric surrounding the initial phase of the disease, as there is common belief that “bat soup” is a common meal in China, and that brings about racist stereotypes as well as discrimination. While cultures and food practices clearly vary across continents, this is not the time to spread hate and discriminate against a group without proper facts. This racist rhetoric also has dangerous additional implications for Chinese Americans who are withstanding the effects of the pandemic in the States.
Medical professionals have acknowledged that it’s possible that COVID-19 could have been a transformation of bat microbes into a deadly human pathogen, so they are reminding all to abstain from eating exotic animals or using their flesh in medicines.