This article originally appeared on VICE Asia.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is still spreading across the globe. As of writing, there have been 89,073 confirmed cases and 3,048 deaths. Fear of contracting the virus is still very real in Asia, where most of the cases are located.
This has caused people to be extra cautious, with many developing anxieties about every symptom. In Tokyo, for example, a simple cough can lead to a full-blown argument between strangers.
On February 28, Friday, Twitter user @__Aerials posted a video of an elderly man in a train aggressively confronting a fellow passenger, a younger man, for coughing without a mask on.
“Adults start a disturbance due to the coronavirus, triggered by a cough on the Yamanote Line," the Twitter user said. The Yamanote Line is one of the busiest in Tokyo.
According to the netizen, the older man was triggered after the younger man coughed. In the video, you can see the older man wearing a face mask, standing and shouting at the younger man, who is seated.
In defence, the young man asked him to stop. The older man then backed away and sat down. With tensions still high, the younger man wanted to have the last word and said that it was the older man who was acting strange, Sora News 24 reported.
This triggered the older man, who stood up again, even more furious. He said it was people like the younger man who were responsible for spreading the coronavirus.
At this point, they could already be heard by other passengers on the train and were causing a scene. The confrontation only ended after two women interfered to calm both men down.
The video has since received 1.9 million views, 22,600 retweets, 1,700 comments, and 68,000 likes on Twitter. Reactions from netizens are mixed.
One user said “This guy will suffer from high blood pressure before he suffers from the coronavirus.”
“Why didn’t the younger guy just say sorry? That would’ve diffused the situation,” said another.
Another chimed in and said, “Respect to the old guy — I hate it when people cough on the train.”
This isn’t the first time a cough led to a big scene in a Japanese train. Just on February 18, a train was forced to do an emergency stop after a man pushed the emergency button to report over the train intercom that a fellow passenger coughed without a face mask.
Like in other parts of the world, the supply of face masks has been running low in Japan since the coronavirus outbreak started. Many in Japan are stocking up and taking extra precautions since there are now 256 confirmed cases and 6 deaths from the coronavirus in the country.