A Malaysian student who studies in Australia was recently kicked out by her landlord over coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fears
According to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Halen - not her real name - returned to Perth on 4 February after celebrating Chinese New Year with her family in Malaysia.
When she walked up to her rented house, she saw her belongings were laid outside of the premise, along with a note that said she had been evicted.
In the note pasted on the door, the landlord said Halen is "no longer welcome in this house"
The landlord claimed that Halen failed to respond to the messages they sent her when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global emergency for the novel coronavirus - now named COVID-19.
"Sorry you made a decision to travel back home for the Chinese New Year when there was an outbreak of the coronavirus, and WHO has declared a global emergency, and now I have made a decision to change locks on the house and put your belongings outside as I am concerned for my welfare and family and friends," read the note.
"It was a hard decision to make between family and friends, but as you have travelled, we are very concerned and you are no longer welcome to come back to the house."
Halen said the landlord's decision had left her confused as she did not travel to Wuhan in China, the epicentre of the outbreak
Halen told ABC that she went to the local police, but the authorities could not help her as she did not have a written rental agreement with the landlord.
She was previously staying at the premise on a verbal agreement, paying AUD86 (about RM239) a week for the space, bills, and other expenses.
Halen's predicament eventually caught the attention of the Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan
McGowan warned Australians against using COVID-19 as an excuse for racist behaviour, condemning such an act as "disgraceful" and "un-Australian".
"There are still no confirmed cases in Western Australia, but we are hearing far too many stories about people facing hate and discrimination just for their heritage," said McGowan.
"We have welcomed students from all backgrounds and countries from around the world for more than 60 years," he explained, adding that it is Australians' duty to make international guests feel welcomed and see them as part of Australia's community.
It is learned that Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken steps to look into the matter
The novel coronavirus has spurred more than just health fears, but also xenophobic sentiments in some part of the world:
Similarly, healthcare workers in Singapore have been facing discrimination for wearing their uniforms in public: