A South Australian grocer is under investigation by police after he shared a video on social media of a man pretending to sneeze on an Asian man. The perpetrator can then be heard saying “Wuhan, huh? Get a bit of Wuhan up ya.”
The post on the Instagram page of St Bernards Fruit and Veg Market in Adelaide on Thursday, 21 May quickly attracted public criticism, as well as reaction from the state’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Dr Niki Vincent.
ABC News subsequently reported that SA Police will be investigating the incident and that deliberately sneezing on someone is classed as an assault under coronavirus-prompted laws.
The man in the video is apparently not an employee of St Bernards. Seven News has reported that the footage is by Nathan Russo of Russo Produce, which is based at the South Australian Produce Market in Pooraka.
Pretends to sneeze and uses a spray bottle
The video shows a man pretending to sneeze on an Asian man while at the same time squeezing a spray bottle. He then wipes his nose and says “Sorry buddy. Bloody hell.” He then follows up with “Wuhan huh? Get a bit of Wuhan up ya.”
You can see the footage via ABC News here.
The victim then moves away and wipes his face. There is laughter from other people and the perpetrator of the prank goes up to the victim and touches him lightly. The victim then seems to understand that it is a prank and touches the man back.
Merely a prank and the victim is a friend
Russo has told Seven News that the video was simply a “prank” and the delivery driver is a “good friend” of his.
St Bernards Fruit and Veg Market owner, John Kapiris, is quoted by ABC News as saying: “It wasn’t done intentionally to hurt anyone – certainly not racist, that’s guaranteed. I’m not a racist person … I supply many, many different Asian restaurants … we cater for everyone.
Coronavirus pranks have become frequent occurrences around the world, often with mixed results. You can see one from the New York subway here:
Meanwhile, Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr Niki Vincent said she was appalled. “It is unlawful behaviour. It should not happen; it should not be laughed at; it should be condemned.”