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A California city’s chief health official referred to Asian Americans as “yellow folk” during a meeting about racism as a public health crisis.

Sacramento County health director Dr Peter Beilenson used the term, widely considered a racist slur, while speaking in support of the resolution earlier this week.

Mr Beilenson later apologised, telling the radio station it was a “significant mistake” and that he would not be using the term again.

“I was put on the spot for giving my comments and obviously should have said ‘Asian American’,” he said.

The resolution declaring racism a public health crisis, which was approved by the board, said it was “incumbent on all locally appointed and elected policy makers to embrace, nurture and protect the diversity of our community”.

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