US Ambassador Tweets About "Invisible China Virus", Draws Criticism From Icelanders

US Ambassador Tweets About “Invisible China Virus”, Draws Criticism From Icelanders

Published July 21, 2020

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
US Embassy In Iceland

US Ambassador to Iceland Jeffrey Ross Gunter posted a tweet last night that has drawn concerted criticism, from Icelanders and Americans alike.

As can be seen, Ambassador Gunter, retweeting a tweet from US President Donald Trump which refers to SARS-CoV-2 as “the Invisible China Virus”, does the same, followed by the US and Icelandic flags. This has prompted criticism from Icelandic and American citizens alike, with Icelanders taking particular issue with including the Icelandic flag in a tweet that calls the novel coronavirus “the Invisible China Virus”.

“Ambassador, the virus is called SARS-CoV-2,” Pirate Party MP Smári McCarthy replied. “Viruses do not have nationalities. Nor are they invisible, merely microscopic. We’re all in this pandemic together, but spreading nationalistic rhetoric doesn’t help anybody. Please don’t associate Iceland with such nonsense. Thanks.”

Many Icelanders responded similarly, with some pointing out that Iceland’s response to the coronavirus has been markedly different than the response of the US government. Some people tagged the Icelandic Prime Minister and the Foreign Ministry, asking them to respond to the tweet critically.

“Ohh, and BTW, the federal government has managed to get it wrong every step of the way (that’s why your countrymen are barred from entering the Schengen area),” Pétur Maack of the Health Care Institute of North Iceland replied. “So, I guess we’re not united at all.”

“I urge you to delete this inappropriate racist tweet and apologise for it,” activist Elva Hjartardóttir replied. “Here in Iceland, as elsewhere in the world, we talk about Covid-19. You are representing your country here in Iceland, please do that with respect and honor and honor our country and our flag.”

The US Ambassador has used the term “COVID-19” on numerous occasions on Twitter, including having re-tweeted a July 17th tweet from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo using the term for the condition brought upon by the novel coronavirus. In this particular instance, it appears the US Ambassador was echoing the terminology that the US President chose to use.

The tweet has been widely reported on in the Icelandic media as well, including RÚV, Stundin, Vísir and Fréttablaðið.

There has been no response from the Icelandic government at the time of this writing.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

You can also support us by checking out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!