ER Nurse in Toronto Says She Was SPAT On, Verbally Assaulted ‘Because I’m Asian’

er nurse

An emergency room nurse in Toronto, Canada was allegedly spat on and verbally assaulted because of her Asian background this week.

The incident reportedly occurred while Katherine Cheung, who just moved from Markham, was out with another nurse in the area of University Avenue and Adelaide Street West on Wednesday.

An intersection in Downtown Toronto. Image via Jeff Hitchcock (CC BY 2.0)

On their way, Cheung and her roommate decided to eat and stopped in front of a restaurant that offered a discount for healthcare workers.

It was there that a woman, presumably in her 60s, allegedly approached and started yelling at them.

“She started hitting us with an umbrella,” Cheung told CTV News, stressing that the woman was gunning for her. “She told me to go back to wherever I came from and called me racial slurs. Then she came very close to my face and purposely spit on me.”

Cheung, who wore a medical mask at the time, claimed that she felt droplets of the woman’s spit on her eyes.

Image via Katherine Cheung

Cheung filed a police report before heading to a hospital for precaution. However, contrary to her belief, the police are not treating the incident as a hate crime.

“It happened because I’m Asian and wearing a mask,” Cheung told CTV News. “This person on the street decided to purposely expose me to whatever viruses she possibly had because of my race.”

The physician who assessed Cheung advised her to take some days off work. And while she is said to be employed in one of the busiest emergency rooms in the area, her employer supported the doctor’s advice.

As of April 10, Toronto — the provincial capital of Ontario — has recorded 1,891 cases of COVID-19. There are 77 deaths and 103 recoveries.


Cheung has reportedly lived in Canada since 2003. While she claims to be no stranger to experiencing racism, she felt that it “escalated” since the coronavirus outbreak started.

“That is clearly assault and the person spitting should be arrested,” a Facebook user commented on the matter.

Another thanked Cheung for her service.

“Katherine, I feel just as i would if this happened to me. I personally want to thank you for coming to Canada and for being brave enough to work in a hospital at a time of crisis. I pray that you will not be infected as a result of this heinous attack.”

Feature Image (Cropped) via Katherine Cheung

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