24-year-old tax consultant Pawat Silawattakun was on his way back home in London on Saturday, February 8, when he became the target of xenophobic thugs. Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, Silawattakun became a target duue to his east Asian ethnicity. The Thai man was accosted by the two teenagers after he got off the bus. One of the teenagers stole his headphones and eventually, Silawattakun was punched in the face. Silawattakun claims that no one bothered to help him while he was being attacked.

According to the Met Police, Silawattakun de-boarded the bus in Fulham Road at around 5:15 pm. The victim recalls that he faintly heard someone screaming something at him. Before he could react, one of the attackers got in his face and started mocking him by repeating the word "coronavirus" even though Silawattakun is not of Chinese origin.

The brazen teenager not only mocked the man, he also recorded the attack. A second teenager approached Silawattakun from behind and snatched his headphones. Silawattakun claims that the boys were not scared nor did they run away until he tried to confront them. When Silawattakun tried to approach the teens, they eventually ran away.

After a short chase, one of the teens turned around and punched Silawattakun. Silawattakun told The Observer that there was blood everywhere, as his nose had started to bleed. When he shouted for help, no one around them helped him. Eventually, a pair of strangers handed Silawattakun his glasses and helped him hire an Uber to the hospital.

Even as Silawattakun was getting on the Uber, he claims he saw one of the teens standing across the road. Following the attack, the city worker has to undergo a surgery to fix his nose. Due to the xenophobic attack, the hard-working man has to take days off from work. Silawattakun's worried parents have also flown in from Thailand to support him.

Silawattakun feels that the attack was more of a bullying tactic than a robbery attempt. Since the incident, Silawattakun wrote about it on Facebook and commenters shared how they too, have been facing racial discrimination after the virus outbreak. However, Silawattakun's attack is the first virus-related attack that the police are investigating in the United Kingdom.

Novel Coronavirus
Most of the deaths have been in Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, the epicentre of the crisis Photo: AFP / STR