Chinese nationals ‘racially abused’ by people fearful of catching deadly coronavirus

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK
Chineese tourists wear face mask near the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, on 26 January 2020. (Photo by Jerome Gilles/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Chinese nationals in European countries are reporting being subjected to “racial abuse” as global coronavirus fears continue to escalate.

On Sunday, French national newspaper Le Courrier Picard published a front page headline that read “Alerte Jaune” - or “Yellow Alert” - featuring an image of an Asian woman covering her mouth.

The article has been widely condemned in France, leading to anger from the French-Asian community who took to social media to share their anger at the headline.

Chineese tourists wear face mask near the Montmartre, Sacre Coeur in Paris, France, on 26 January 2020. (Photo by Jerome Gilles/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The hashtag 'JeNeSuisPasUnVirus' ('IAmNotAVirus') is currently trending on Twitter as global fears around the deadly virus - borne in the Chinese city of Wuhan - continue to grow.

Since the newspaper published the article, a separate apology titled “About our January 26 front page” stated: “We apologise to anyone who may have been sincerely shocked. We will redouble our attention in the future.”

The news comes as France confirms four cases of coronavirus in the country.

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Stephen Nivet, director of the International League Against Racism and Antisemitism told French newspaper L'Express: “Let's imagine for one second that the virus came from Africa, no newspaper would have dared lead with 'Black alert'.

“The fact that a newspaper published such a cover without realising that there was a problem proves that there is a problem.”

In Italy, national newspapers have reported a rise in discrimination against Chinese people following the outbreak of the disease in Wuhan, where the death toll has risen to 170.

A woman wearing a mask walks by her electric scooter in via Paolo Sarpi, the commercial street of the chinese district of Milan on January 30, 2020. - Several well-known figures in the Chinese community in Italy on January 30, 2020 denounced "Discrimination without distinction" and "latent racism" from Italians frightened by the coronavirus epidemic and the risks of contagion. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Racially fuelled episodes reportedly include Chinese tourists being spat at in Venice, while a family in Turin was accused of carrying the disease.

The Local also reported how mothers in Milan called for Italian children to be kept away from Chinese classmates.

In an open letter, Chinese journalist Hu Lanbo, an Italian resident of 30 years who runs the "China in Italy" publication, said: "Believing that one can catch the new coronavirus at the mere sight of a Chinese person really makes no sense.”

Current confirmed cases of coronavirus (PA)

Thousands of cruise passengers were reportedly stuck on a ship in Italy on Thursday amid fears that Chinese holidaymakers were carrying the deadly virus.

Currently, there are no recorded cases of the coronavirus in Italy.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared coronovirus an international public health emergency.