Union minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday condemned the racial discrimination that people from the North East are facing because of the coronavirus outbreak and said people making such attacks are the “real enemy virus”. Rijiju’s comments come two days after a 25-year-old woman from Manipur was allegedly spat on by a man in North-West Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar. He also yelled “corona” at her before fleeing.

“I am sad to see such racial discrimination in many parts of India,” Rijiju wrote on Twitter. “Anyone whoever discriminates people of other community, region, religion or race are the real enemy virus.” The minister also urged state governments to take strict action against people found to be making racist attacks.

Last week, a woman in Ahmedabad and eight of her colleagues, all from Nagaland, had to spend the night in a government quarantine facility meant for suspected patients even though they showed no physical symptoms for the disease. None of them had a travel history to affected countries and did not have any apparent contact with a confirmed Covid-19 patient.

The Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday asked state governments to sensitise all law enforcement agencies to take action against any kind of verbal and physical harassment of people from the North East.

There have also been reports of Asians around the world being blamed for the coronavirus outbreak and being subjected to racist attacks. United States President Donald Trump on Monday called for protection of Asian Americans after allegations that his use of the term “Chinese virus” had triggered a backlash. “It is very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States, and all around the world,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “They are amazing people, and the spreading of the Virus is NOT their fault in any way, shape, or form.”

Coronavirus, which has now spread to 168 countries, originated in China. The alarmingly-spreading infection has killed more than 16,000 people across the world and infected over 3,80,000. While the number of cases in China are now declining, countries like Italy, Iran are Spain have emerged as new hotbeds of the infection.