“We are closed to all Chinese,” reads a notice in a popular Hotel in Lagos in a bizarre response to coronavirus epidemic in China.
Daily Mail went to verify the claim but the sign soon disappeared and the hotel refused to comment when questions were asked.
In Abuja, a Chinese citizen who runs a popular restaurant told Daily Mail, “business bad. No customers,” indicating a drop in customers in what was attributed to fear of the virus.
He tried to explain that since the outbreak of the virus, there has been a continues decline in customers to the restaurant but said the name of the restaurant should be anonymous just as his name.
“No Chinese allowed,” ran another warning in a restaurant in Seoul, South Korea’s buzzing business city.
As of 6 pm on Tuesday, the entrance to a seafood restaurant in downtown Seoul bore a sign that read, in red Chinese characters, “No Chinese allowed.” That same day, union of food delivery workers asked to be excused from making deliveries to areas with a large Chinese population.
As the world comes to terms with the virus with no known causes yet, Chinese have begun to come under huge mark of xenophobic attacks and rejection of goods from the world’s second biggest economy.
Chinese stocks are tumbling as the mainland accelerates efforts to curtain the spread of the epidemic while its island’s economy, Hong Kong is rising.
But it’s the global reaction to the outbreak of the disease in which the World Health Organization has refused to declare a pandemic that is headlining another bad disease to come out of China.
From the bizarre to the ridiculous, talks of, “Do you know if the outbreak of coronavirus is as a result of dirty and crazy foods Chinese eat,” to outright conspiracy of, “who knows if such unknown diseases are created in fake Chinese labs,” Chinese citizens are being undermined just as its goods and economic growth and expansion has been scaled down, now not a major concern yet to Chinese authorities though.
Talks of Xi Jinping over staying his welcome has spurred fresh debate as the death of Dr Li Wenliang, a medical doctor and one of the first eight people to warn the public about the outbreak of the virus.
But yet, here is what is even more worrisome: Chinese citizens are being rejected globally.
Sam Phan, a master’s student at the University of Manchester, wrote in the Guardian UK: “This week, my ethnicity has made me feel like I was part of a threatening and diseased mass. To see me as someone who carries the virus just because of my race is, well, just racist.
“As an east Asian I can’t help but feel more and more uncomfortable,” added Phan, a British citizen.
“On the bus to work last week, as I sat down, the man next to me immediately scrambled to gather his stuff and stood up to avoid sitting next to me.”
Then a cafe near the Trevi fountain in Rome reportedly posted a sign prohibiting “all people coming from China,” the Guardian UK reported.
Social-media users report that similar fear and misinformation spread during the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003.
A video of Chinese vlogger Wang Mengyun eating bat soup went viral along with thousands of comments — and, according to Mengyun, hate mail. But the video was recorded three years earlier in Palau, Micronesia, a Pacific island nation, not in China Daily Mail reports.
On Twitter, Canadian-based journalist Andrew Kurjata wrote, “Perhaps revealing some naiveté, I’m surprised at the level of vitriol towards Chinese people I’m seeing in the comments sections of stories about the Wuhan coronavirus. And I mean towards the people, not the government.”
An online petition signed by parents in one school district in Ontario, Canada, asked the school board to request parents whose children or whose families have recently returned from China “to stay at home and keep isolated for a minimum of 17 days for the purpose of self-quarantine.”
On Monday, the Chinese government accused the US of spreading “panic” over the coronavirus by restricting travel to China and evacuating its citizens. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Washington has “unceasingly manufactured and spread panic.
“It is precisely developed countries like the US with strong epidemic prevention capabilities… that have taken the lead in imposing excessive restrictions contrary to World Health Organization recommendations,” she said in what’s developing to be a diplomatic spat.
Reports say some Wuhan citizens have decried a backlash against them among fellow Chinese. April Pin, a Wuhan resident, circulated an open letter online, appealing to her fellow Chinese to show more compassion and understanding.
“Many of my friends who left Wuhan did not realize how severe the situation was,” she wrote in the letter, quoted by CNN. She told the network, “There are too many comments online hurling abuse and denunciation at Wuhan people,” adding, “I feel wronged.”
Phan, writing in the Guardian UK, appealed for compassion over fear. “It’s important it is to see us in all our diversity, as individual human beings, and to challenge stereotypes. The coronavirus is a human tragedy, so let’s not allow fear to breed hatred, intolerance and racism,” he wrote.
After five people were arrested in Malaysia for spreading fake news about the virus online, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said, “The government will take action on those spreading fake news to instill fear among Malaysians and incite hatred among the races.
“Even though we believe in freedom of press, that does not mean the press should agitate people and cause people to be antagonistic towards each other,” he said, according to the South China Morning Post.
“We will take action against those people.”
The coronavirus, a pneumonia-causing illness that infects the respiratory tract, was responsible for 435 deaths and 20, 438 infections as at Monday evening, China’s National Health Commission said.
In the Philippines, a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan — the city believed to be the epicenter of the outbreak — was the first person to die outside China from the virus, health officials in that country said on Sunday sparking fears of international deaths thus a flurry of evacuations.
According to figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are confirmed cases in more than two dozen countries, including Germany, Japan, Vietnam, and the U.S., the U.K. and Russia.
On Sunday, New York City health officials said two more patients there were being tested for the virus, bringing the total of suspected cases in that state to three.
China has taken major steps to help prevent the spread of the virus. Officials in Wuhan, a city of 11 million residents that is widely regarded as the epicenter of the illness, closed the area’s outgoing airport and railway stations and suspended all public transport.
Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang said five million people had left the city before travel restrictions were imposed ahead of the Chinese New Year.
Ma Xiaowei, the director of China’s National Health Commission, said that the virus had an incubation period of up to 14 days.
The focus on Wuhan, the Central Chinese city where the virus is believed to have been first diagnosed in December, and rumors about whether it began in a food market there, have led to reports of racism against Chinese people and the sharing of xenophobic memes online.
Isuma Isuma is the Editor of Daily Mail. This article relied on agencies as sources.