In the age of the COVID-19 outbreak, the sight of someone coughing in public has become a frequent cause for suspicious stares, altercations and even maltreatment at work, leading to the emergence of what has been dubbed by Japanese media as "corohara," or coronavirus harassment.

Reports are swirling online of fights between strangers resulting from people coughing on trains. Other accounts detail workplace bullying against those who have recently returned from abroad, or even hard-hit Hokkaido, pointing to growing signs of panic among the public.

Reports of workplace harassment have ranged from people being pressured to apologize or take days off for coughing due to hay fever or asthma. Others have reportedly been shunned by colleagues simply for living in a neighborhood where new cases of infection have been confirmed.