Coronavirus-related racist outbursts are now being felt in New Zealand by Chinese-Kiwis and Kiwis of Asian descent.
Labour MP Raymond Hou said the coronavirus had become the number one issue among the local Chinese community both for efforts to ensure safety of family members and for the incidents of racial abuse it was bringing.
Singaporean Kiwi Dollice Chua, who has lived here for 21 years, was also shocked to be abused in an Auckland mall yesterday afternoon.
She visited the Auckland's NorthWest Shopping Mall wearing a mask to purchase a wedding card.
But while on the way to the toilets a middle-aged woman gave her "the dagger eyes".
"You Asians are the ones who brought this virus," the woman said.
Chua responded that she was originally from Singapore.
But her abuser continued "mumbling and glaring at me" as she walked away, Chua said.
"This gave me a very lousy feeling. It's racist and beyond rude."
She said it was not just the tone of the attack but the woman's "borderline hostile and aggressive" demeanour.
"Definitely, she was inviting a fight or altercation of some sort," she said.
Chua said she visited the mall wearing a mask because she wanted to be safe.
"My husband said, 'don't do it otherwise you will look a bit weird'," she said.
After the abuse, she immediately took the mask off, found her husband and left the mall.
Elsewhere, an online petition calling for all people from China - and especially the district around Wuhan where the virus started - to be barred from entering New Zealand "without full screening and quarantine" had picked up more than 18,000 signatures.
Labour MP Hou said one community member - who had been in New Zealand for the past one-and-a-half years - also recently coughed on a bus to Pakuranga, prompting two passengers to shout that she was Chinese and unwell and so should stay home.
"We also note an Australian tabloid openly described coronavirus as "Chinese virus" and played the word 'PANDAmonium'," he said.
"It was unfortunate. There is an online petition urging the Australian newspaper to apologise and so far more than 40,000 people signed."
"There's no place for racism and xenophobia."
Race Relations commissioner Meng Foon was disappointed to hear of the abuse.
"Anxiety and fear should never be a reason to discriminate and vilify Chinese or any other group," he said.
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"These victims of abuse are also equally worried for their health and do not need added pressure."
New Zealand currently had no confirmed cases of the virus, he said.
"Keep calm, listen to the facts, and adhere to the precautionary measures recommended by the Ministry of Health," he said.
It comes as hate speech and racist memes have also flooded social media sites including Twitter and Facebook.
Those sentiments were now increasingly spreading to real-life discrimination across both across Asia and in western countries, news.com.au reports.
In South Korea, some businesses have been photographed with signs in windows stating, "No Chinese allowed".
"So now people who perhaps have existing prejudice suddenly have an excuse to act out with racist behaviour and remarks."
A Japanese lolly shop in the mountain town of Hakone also reportedly posted a sign, saying "No Chinese are allowed to enter the store. I do not want to spread the virus."
Similar incidents have been reported in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The official death toll from the virus rose to 170, with 7711 cases now reported in China, the country's authorities said on Thursday.
There are at least 91 confirmed cases outside China, spread across more than 20 countries.