Africans in Guangzhou, the largest city in southern China, are expressing concern that they are unfairly targeted on suspicion that they are responsible for the spread of coronavirus.
This situation has seen them being subjected to arbitrary quarantines, forceful eviction from their houses and mass COVID-19 testing, which borders on racism as the Chinese authorities try to enhance the fight against imported infections. The measures are being applied even to Africans who have not had a recent travel history.
China argues that it has, to a large extent, managed to control the pandemic in the country. However, in the recent past, there have been several cases of the disease affecting the Nigerian community living in Guangzhou, which has allegedly ignited the racist discrimination by the local community and health officials.
As of April 9th, 2020, the town had recorded 114 cases of the virus, with 16 of them being people of African descent. All the other cases were from Chinese nationals who were returning home. According to local authorities in Guangzhou, which has a population of 15 million, about eight people who tested positive for the virus had spent time in Yuexiu district, christened as “Little Africa.”
Foreign nationals have been banned from entering China. The returning citizens have to undergo a 14-day quarantine at their cost in hotels or centralized facilities run by the government.
COVID-19 infections in Guangzhou have generated a torrent of abuse over the internet, where most Chinese post racist comments and are calling for the deportation of all Africans.
The resulting tense situation is making Africans be viewed in mistrust and suspicion in the country. Some Africans have been forced out of their homes and turned refused admission into hotels.
Law enforcement officers are ordering Africans who turn negative for the virus to stay at home while allowing the Chinese to walk around freely.