Norfolk

Norwich Filipino nurse 'dumbfounded' by coronavirus abuse

Mark Nopia
Image caption Mark Nopia was on a bus in Norwich when a man challenged him for not wearing a face mask

An NHS nurse from the Philippines said he was left "dumbfounded" after being abused over the coronavirus outbreak.

Mark Nopia, 32, was travelling home from university by bus in Norwich when a fellow passenger challenged him for not wearing a face mask.

He said he was "on the verge of tears" after the elderly man told him: "You Asians. Stop spreading the virus."

Norfolk Police said it was investigating the man's comments as a hate crime.

Mr Nopia, who came to the UK three years ago, is studying for a degree in acute and critical care, and works a cardiology nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

'So shocked'

He said he was confronted by a man on 3 February on the bus from the University of East Anglia.

The man said: "Are you Chinese? You Asians. Stop spreading the virus. You should wear a mask."

Mr Nopia said: "At first I was dumbfounded. I was so shocked that it happened. I was on the verge of crying.

"We shouldn't use the virus as an excuse to be racist."

Mr Nopia said he was grateful to a woman on the bus who stood up for him.

There have now been more than 40,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide. The death toll in China stands at 1,016.

The number of people known to be infected in the UK is eight.

A number of racist incidents relating to coronavirus are being investigated by police, including four in York in the past fortnight.

Two South East Asian pupils in Market Harborough had eggs thrown at them in what their school described as an attack related to the virus.

China's ambassador to the UK condemned "hatred" against Chinese people following the outbreak.

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