The internet has a new word for all the spring breakers, partygoers and hoarders behaving selfishly during the new coronavirus threat.
They’re calling those people “COVIDIOTS,” a nickname inspired by the COVID-19 disease, which appears to be bringing out the worst in a minority of people, even while others practice generosity and social distancing.
The term has even made it into the Urban Dictionary, an unofficial, crowdsourced repository for pop-culture slang.
The site offers two definitions of a “COVIDIOT”:
- Someone who ignores the warnings regarding public health or safety
- A person who hoards goods, denying them from their neighbours
Social media users have been sharing photos and videos under the COVIDIOTS hashtag in an effort to shame people for gathering in large groups or using the outbreak to their advantage.
Many people are also encouraging the “COVIDIOTS” to stay indoors out of respect for the health-care workers who are risking their own health to fight the outbreak.
The term has frequently been used over the past week to describe the hundreds of college students who flocked to Miami for spring break despite official orders that shut down many of the festivities.
“If I get corona, I get corona,” spring breaker Brady Sluder told CBS News last week. “I’m not going to let it stop me from partying.”
The virus spreads through water droplets expelled when a person speaks or breathes, and these droplets can easily infect others in a large crowd, health experts have said.
The University of Tampa announced on Saturday that five of its students have tested positive for the virus. The students were “travelling together and with other UT students on spring break,” the school said in a tweet.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned young people last Friday that they can also suffer severe consequences from contracting the novel coronavirus.
“This virus could put you in hospital for weeks or even kill you,” WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference, speaking directly to young people.
“You are not invincible.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
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