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Wuhan Restaurant located in the food court of Ansar Mall in Sharjah. Image Credit: Mazhar Farooqui/Gulf News

Sharjah: A fast food joint in Sharjah has suddenly become the focus of attention because of its name.

Ever since the dreaded coronavirus broke out in the city of Wuhan - the capital of Hubei province in China - the Wuhan Restaurant at Ansar Mall’s food court has been drawing curious glances from shoppers and diners alike.

“Every day scores of people click pictures of our restaurant. Some even take selfies with our signboard,” said the eatery’s manager Mohammad Yusuf. “It’s all very amusing. Initially I couldn’t understand why our restaurant had piqued everybody’s interest but now I know better,” he said. Wuhan Restaurant’s Pakistani owner, Younas Aziz, who has been operating the place for the past two years, said he didn’t know that there was a city by the name of Wuhan until the outbreak of coronavirus.

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Wuhan Restaurant located in the food court of Ansar Mall, Sharjah. PHOTO Mazhar Farooqui/Gulf News Image Credit: Mazhar Farooqui/Gulf News

Now officially called COVID-19, coronavirus has infected more than 67,000 people globally, the vast majority in mainland China where over 1,500 have died so far.

“The name Wuhan was given to us by the Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD). We wanted to serve Indo-Chinese food so they suggested Wuhan and we went ahead with it. It was only when news of the coronavirus first came in that we found out that its epicenter is a Chinese city called Wuhan,” said Aziz who has just returned from Mecca after performing the Umrah pilgrimage.

Aziz said despite the fear associated with ‘Wuhan’, their restaurant continues to do brisk business.

“Wuhan is just a name. Why would it have any impact on sales? In any case, neither me nor any any of my staff has been to China, much less Wuhan,” he said.

A Filipino customer said he decided to dine at the restaurant after its intriguing name caught his eyes. “Wuhan has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. Of course, its namesake restaurant has nothing to do with it, so we decided to try it out,” he said as he dug into a Chinese combo meal on Saturday evening.

However, an Indian woman looking to order food online said coronavirus-stricken Wuhan weighed heavily on her mind when Wuhan Restaurant showed up on a food delivery app. “They were offering a heavy discount and somehow I didn’t feel comfortable ordering from there. But my family prevailed over me and we ordered from there,” she said.