A BRADFORD OWNER of three huge Chinese wholesale stores - which supply takeouts across the country - has hit out after a drastic drop in sales in the midst of the coronavirus scare.

Karen Lee, owner of Sing-Kee in North Parade and Leeds, described the shunning of Chinese businesses as "uneducated".

The British-born Chinese businesswoman, who also is manager of Noodle Sing in North Parade, says sales at her three wholesalers had dropped by 20 to 30 per cent in just the last week.

Sing-Kee provides cash-and-carry retail for Chinese takeouts and businesses across Yorkshire, the North and the Midlands.

Mrs Lee said: "I'm British-born Chinese, I take it, but I feel sorry for families who run Chinese takeaways.

"Takings have gone right down, we supply Chinese takeaways.

"I had one person ring and they thought something was wrong with their phone, because it was 8pm on a Friday and they weren't busy.

"He took £50 on the night and he usually does between £500 and £600."

Mrs Lee initially took to social media site Twitter to express her outrage at the situation.

She explained how Noodle Sing had received six prank-calls referring to coronavirus in one night.

On Tuesdays, the business runs a "Buy One Get One Free" promotion and Mrs Lee says it is usually heaving.

But this week they were down 50 per cent in takings.

Mrs Lee said: "I've had people come in and say 'I want to eat food from you, but I'm scared to it eat it in case I get coronavirus'".

She added that those who are Chinese-born at Noodle Sing haven't even been to the country in years. 

The current outbreak of "novel coronavirus" was first reported from Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Fears over the spread of the virus began to snowball last week, with two cases confirmed in the United Kingdom so far.

The hysteria surrounding the outbreak has led to an increase in racism and prejudice in many cities across the country.

Mrs Lee said it is a simple case of ignorance, which can be solved by people having more knowledge on the situation.

She added: "The ingredients are not from China. The chips are from here. The chicken is from here. All they're doing is cooking Chinese food.

"The curry sauce is manufactured in Liverpool, it's just the way it is cooked is Chinese.

"It's a bit uneducated. We should be sticking together on something like this and not go against each other.

"There's only been two cases in England, and they're recovering, they're not going to die.

"As soon as someone sees a Chinese person with a mask on, they step away.

"It's all psychological, I don't blame them, but it doesn't mean they've got the virus - they're just protecting themselves, just in case."  

The reaction to coronavirus in the UK has had even more tragic circumstances for some businesses.

Mrs Lee said: "One of our customers is closing in Newcastle and going back.

"They said there's no point because they've lost that much."