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Early last week unfounded rumours began to emerge that African communities had become a new hotbed for the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.
Soon after, health officials began door-to-door testing targeting African immigrants.
Landlords and hotels have evicted hundreds of Africans. Many, including community leaders, were forced into quarantine despite testing negative for the virus.
Hundreds now remain homeless as fears grow that cities like Guangzhou could face a second wave of the outbreak.
Various African ambassadors in China have written to the country’s foreign minister to voice complaints about “stigmatisation and discrimination”.
On Saturday, the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe dismissed the accusations in a tweet: “China treats all individuals in the country, Chinese and foreign alike, as equals.”
Guangzhou was the largest African community in Asia in the late 2000s, but over the last five years the numbers of Africans living in the city have dwindled. Many say they face frequent discrimination, visa restrictions and challenges in doing business.
I spoke to one evicted student from Nigeria who told me he had been forced into hiding.
“I am running [from the police] because of the way they are testing people and claiming that the person has a sickness, bringing all sorts of injections,” he said.
“They are going to houses and bringing people out, keeping them in hotels. I am just hiding and living by the grace of God.”