A man who stabbed several members of an Asian-American family in Texas did so because he believed they were Chinese and were spreading the coronavirus, the FBI has said.
Two of the victims were children, aged 6 and 2 years old.
Dallas News reported that the March 14 incident has been listed as a hate crime linked to the outbreak.
An FBI intelligence report said the accused, aged 19, launched the attack “because he thought the family was Chinese and infecting people with the coronavirus”. He has been charged with attempted murder.
The agency believes that such hate crimes against Asian-Americans will “surge” in the US as the outbreak continues, potentially “endangering Asian-American communities” as some Americans associate the virus with people of Chinese appearance.
The Trump administration has faced criticism over officials, including the president, calling the virus the “Chinese virus” or the “Kung Flu”, raising fears that Americans will blame other citizens who are of Chinese or other East Asian descent.
Almost 190,000 people have been infected in the US, with 4,081 dead and 7,136 recovered.
In possibly his bleakest news conference yet, US President Donald Trump warned Americans on Tuesday of a “painful” two weeks ahead in fighting the coronavirus, with a mounting US death toll that could stretch into the hundreds of thousands even with strict social distancing and other virus mitigation measures in place.
The warning was accompanied by a sobering set of charts that showed potential for an enormous jump in deaths within the range of 100,000 to 240,000 people from the virus in the coming months. Another chart showed as many as 2.2 million people were projected to die without such measures – the number that prompted Trump to ditch plans to have the US economy moving again by Easter.