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Teens shout ‘coronavirus at Asian man before breaking his nose and robbing him’

An East Asian man claims he was racially abused by two teenagers who attacked and robbed him in south-west London.

The suspects reportedly shouted ‘coronavirus’ at Pawat Silawattakun, 24, before breaking his nose on Fulham Road, in what is thought to be the first hate crime linked to the infection reported to UK authorities.

There have been previous reports of people associating the infection, which has killed 1,669 so far, with East Asian people because it originated in Wuhan, China.

Tax consultant Mr Silawattakun, from Thailand, who was attacked on February 8, told the Observer: ‘I’d just got off the bus at Fulham when I heard a faint sound directed at me from my left across the street.

‘I had these noise-cancelling headphones on and took them off as these guys just shouted “Coronavirus! Coronavirus! Ha, ha!” in my face while filming me.

‘I didn’t get a chance to say anything – “Please stop”, or “Why are you doing this?” – when one of them snatched the headphones from my neck.’

Mr Silawattakun said he chased the suspects down the road before one of them punched him in the face when they reached a traffic island.

He added ‘there was blood everywhere’ after he was allegedly assaulted.

Police have launched an aggravated robbery investigation and are appealing for help from the public.

A Met Police spokeswoman said: ‘The victim, a 24-year-old man, reported being racially abused by an unknown male suspect in Fulham Road.

‘A second male suspect then approached the victim from behind and stole his headphones, and then assaulted him. The victim sustained a broken nose and received hospital treatment.

‘The incident happened at around 5.15pm on Saturday, February 8.’