The spread of the coronavirus has triggered a growing tide of anti-Chinese sentiment across the globe.
There have been calls for full travel bans on Chinese visitors and other Asians while posters have appeared in restaurants in South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam saying they will refuse to serve customers from the centre of the virus’ outbreak.
In Indonesia a mob marched on a hotel calling for its Chinese guests to leave while newspapers in France and Australia have been criticised for racist headlines.
Several hundred residents in Indonesia’s Bukittinggi descended on the Novotel Hotel, where 170 Chinese tourists were staying. They blocked roads to prevent people leaving with the authorities even sending the visitors back to China later in the day.
In Malaysia, more than 400,000 people have signed a petition calling for a ban on Chinese travelers, urging the government to ‘save our family and our children.’
About 600,000 South Koreans signed an online petition calling a temporary ban on Chinese visitors with the newspaper JoonAny Ilbo saying there had been an intensifying of ‘unconditional xenophobia’.
So far, two dozen countries outside of China have reported coronavirus cases, with more than 300 people dying from the disease, one outside of the communist state.
In the USA, the University of California removed an Instagram post that said ‘fears about interacting with those who might be from Asia and guilt about these feelings’ were a normal reaction to the coronavirus outbreak.
Gregg Orton, the national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, said: ‘No matter how much time we spend in this country, at times we are almost immediately viewed as a foreigner.
‘It’s a pretty frustrating reality for many of us.’
In Hong Kong, which has been the scene of months of anti-Beijing street protests, the city-state’s chief executive Carrie Lam suspended ferry and high-speed trains to the mainland and reduced flights between Hong Kong and Chinese cities.
However noodle restaurant Tenno Ramen in Hong Kong, posted ‘We want to live longer. We want to safeguard local customers. Please excuse us,’ on its Facebook page as it began refusing to serve mainland customers.
France has a significant and growing Asian community, and Chinese visitors make up a large proportion of the French tourism industry but that didn’t stop a regional newspaper in the north of the country carrying a front-page headline warning of a ‘Yellow Alert’ before apologising amid national criticism.
Soc Lam, a legal adviser to Chinese community groups in Paris, said: ‘It’s a virus that comes from a region in China. It could have come from North Africa, Europe or anywhere.
‘People should not consider that just because we are Asian, we are more likely to spread the virus.’
The Chinese embassy in Copenhagen called a cartoon in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, which replaced the yellow stars of the famous red flag with representations of the virus, as ‘an insult to China’ and demanded an apology.
The German Der Spiegel magazine ran a headline that said ‘made in China’ along with a photo of an individual in protective gear.
In the Philippines, the only nation outside of China to have so far reported a coronavirus death, former police officer and town mayor, Abner Afuang, said he burned a Chinese flag on Friday in front of the National Press Club in Manila.
He said it was in protest of the problems China had brought to the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries, including the virus and Beijing’s claim to disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The Philippine president’s office said in a statement: ‘Let us not engage in discriminatory behavior, nor act with any bias towards our fellowmen. The reality is everyone is susceptible to the virus.’
What is the coronavirus and where did it start?
Coronaviruses are a family of diseases which include the common cold and the virus which caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which originated in China in 2002 and killed nearly 800 people around the world.
The virus causing concern now is a new strain which has made the jump from animals to people.
It causes flu-like symptoms and can make it hard for people to breathe, causing viral pneumonia in severe cases.
Over 100 people worldwide have now died after contracting the illness.
The virus is more likely to progress into a severe illness or prove fatal among older patients or those with weakened immune systems.
As it is a viral illness, antibiotics will not help and there is no known cure or vaccine.
The Foreign Office has warned against all but essential travel to mainland China, and British Airways has subsequently suspended flights there.
They have not advised against travel to Thailand and Japan, which have both seen cases of the virus, but warned there are enhanced quarantine procedures at entry points to Japan such as airports and ports.
If you’re booked onto a flight with BA and are scheduled to fly between January 26 – February 23, you can request a refund.
In order to do this, get in touch with them directly through the BA website.
They also offer the option to rebook to the same destination, although it is not known when flights to mainland China will resume.
To avoid the illness, take usual hygiene precautions, such as using a tissue to cover coughs and sneezes, and making sure to wash your hands.
Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth after touching things like poles on public transport and avoid close contact with people suffering an acute respiratory infection.
You should also avoid unprotected contact with wild or farm animals.
So far, no cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK.
Almost 100 people have been tested for it here, with all of the tests coming back negative.
The virus originated in the city of Wuhan in China, where it is believed to have made the jump from animals to people at a seafood market.
Wuhan is the capital of China’s Hubei province, a landlocked province in central China.
It is built along the Yangtze river, and is around 500 miles west of Shanghai and 690 miles north of Hong Kong.
It is the largest and most populous city in central China, although estimates over its population vary.