The COVID-19 outbreak has brought out the different sides of humanity. On one side you have people performing charitable deeds, and on the other, committing appalling acts of exploitation.
It has also unearthed racist and xenophobic behaviour, like what was experienced by Taiwanese entertainer Huang Hao Ping. The 31-year-old shared a Facebook post on Friday (Feb 14) alleging that he was placed under forced quarantine at a hotel in England despite not displaying any symptoms of the coronavirus.
“I had already put my luggage away when I was told that I was not allowed to leave my room or cancel my stay. I’m now waiting for the NHS (National Health Service) to contact me. Has anyone ever experienced this before or knows how to deal with this?” he wrote.
About an hour later, he added an update saying that he had been “rescued” by locals who were originally from Hongkong, and he penned another lengthy post to tell the full story.
According to Hao Ping, he had been in the United Kingdom since February 3, and visited both Edinburgh and London without facing any discrimination. However, that changed when he checked into the Lindum Hotel in Blackpool, a seaside town in North West England.
“At 6pm, before I checked in, I received a message from the hotel asking how long I will be in England and where I came from. I said that I arrived from Taiwan 10 days ago and that I did not have any symptoms, and the hotel did not ask me to cancel my reservation. When I reached the hotel at 7pm, I was just asked to declare my travel history and fill in a form, but I was not prevented from staying.”
Things seemed to be going well until later that evening, when Hao Ping left to have dinner with friends. “I received a message asking me to return to the hotel as soon as possible because those who had been in Taiwan within the past 14 days need to be quarantined,” he recalled.
When Hao Ping rushed back to the hotel, the staff reportedly spoke to him “in a very disrespectful tone and manner”, telling him to go to his room immediately and to stay there while waiting for the NHS to come and clear things up.
Fortunately, Hao Ping managed to contact a local homestay owner from Hongkong, who offered to go to the Lindum Hotel to talk things out with the boss of the hotel. Soon, Hao Ping was told to pack his bags and when he went down to the lobby, the hotel boss gave him a “dirty look” as he returned his room key.
He then shared a conversation he had with the homestay owner, who told him, “I’m here to take you away. You were about to be going to be locked in there for 14 days.”
When Hao Ping asked, “Why? Can’t I call the police?”
Her response was... “Blackpool doesn’t really have an organised police force…”
Later, when the NHS contacted Hao Ping, he relayed the entire incident to them. After they clarified that he really was virus-free, they said that he hopes he can understand that the entire country is in a panic right now, so incidents like that are bound to happen.
At the end of his post, Hao Ping shared that some of his followers have asked why he still wants to travel during this period. “This isn’t the time for victim-blaming. I have not gone to any affected areas and this trip was arranged a long time ago. Accidents happen. I just hope that Taiwanese people all over the world will be more mindful of their situations," he wrote.