Even as the country tries to spur its economy back on the normal track, the stigmatizing of those who have been infected with the novel coronavirus has appeared in the job market.
Job recruitment notices issued by local employers in some places such as Shanghai explicitly exclude recovered patients from applying for positions, according to reports. Volunteers who worked at temporary quarantine facilities are also being discriminated against.
Such practices are outrageous. Not only do they rub salt in the wounds of those who have already suffered so much — both physically from symptoms of the illness, and mentally as the result of their going through the stressful experience, from infection to recovery, often isolated from their family members and friends — they are also illegal.
It is against the law to deny people of the right to work, as discrimination based on gender, age, social and health status is strictly prohibited in China’s Labor Law. The disdain for the legal system being displayed by some employers should not be tolerated.
Moreover, there are no scientific grounds for such prejudice. Rather, after overcoming their infection, most of those who have been infected with the virus and recovered will have some protection from repeat infections. Rejecting a person only because he/she once tested positive for the virus is thus as unnecessary as it is unethical and illegal.
Discrimination of any kind is toxic to society. The labor authorities must intervene to correct the wrongs of the employers who refuse to recruit people because they were infected with the virus.
Such a practice must be quickly nipped in the bud across the country, lest such “COVID discrimination” percolates through society. If that happens it could further deepen the “COVID shame” already felt by some people after they become infected.
By adding a sense of guilt to their stress and anxiety, it could deter them from having interactions with other people, thus causing a serious social problem given there are already about 891,000 people on the Chinese mainland who have been infected and the number is still growing.
It could also prompt those who become infected but whose symptoms are mild to avoid seeking medical treatment, or try to hide their health condition or journeys for fear of becoming the target of discrimination.
This would disrupt the country’s prevention and control work by making the work of transmission chain tracing more difficult.
Like any form of bigotry, COVID discrimination must not be tolerated.
Editorial, China Daily