Coronavirus street art appears in Rome's Chinatown.A mural tackling the ignorance and xenophobia surrounding the Coronavirus appeared overnight in the capital's Esquilino district, best known as the Chinatown of Rome.
The mural - by street artist Laika - features Sonia, the high-profile owner of the Hang Zhou restaurant, a normally bustling venue which has been practically deserted in recent days.
Sonia, dressed in white surgical costume and face mask, has a speech bubble which reads (in Italian): "There's an epidemic of ignorance going around...we must protect ourselves!!!"
The mural on Via Principe Amedeo, near the market at Piazza Vittorio, is interpreted as both a call for solidarity and a comment on the rising cases of xenophobia against Chinese people in Italy, out of misguided fears of catching the Coronavirus merely by coming into contact with a Chinese person.
The mural by Laika, who is known for her street art depiction of former AS Roma footballer Daniele De Rossi, comes amid reports of increasingly empty Chinese shops and restaurants in Rome.
There have even been reports in local media of rubbish piling up on streets in the Esquilino area as trash collection workers refuse to pick up garbage out of Coronavirus fears.
A bar near the Trevi Fountain recently created a storm of controversy by putting a notice on its door banning "all people coming from China" from entering its premises.
The sign, subsequently removed by police, was condemned by mayor Virginia Raggi who tweeted "Stop psychosis and alarmism."
Raggi followed this up by telephoning Sonia - of mural fame - to express her solidarity with Rome's Chinese community and to say that she would be visiting for dinner at Hang Zhou as soon as her schedule allowed.
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Coronavirus: Rome mural tackles xenophobia
Via Principe Amedeo, Roma RM, Italy