A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police, in an interview with Yahoo News UK, said an elderly couple was walking through Paynes Park in Hitchin when they were approached by three people, one of whom reportedly coughed in their faces.
The three people’s actions, as detailed by Hertfordshire Police, made the couple “uncomfortable.”
The situation then escalated, according to the police, after a passer-by intervened to help the elderly couple.
According to police testimony, the man, who intervened on behalf of the couple, suffered bruising on his face.
The victim, a woman over the age of 70, also suffered bruising on one of her eyes and was taken to a hospital for a check-up. The police say the woman is now recovering at home with her family.
According to police records, the boys – aged 16, 18 and 19? – who assaulted the victim and the passer-by, have been arrested and interviewed under suspicion of actual bodily harm, affray and criminal damage before being released under investigation.
On a related note, police and the authorities have released a statement warning people not to post details of the case nor release footage of the alleged incident on the internet as it could potentially hamper future legal proceedings related to the case.
“It has also come to our attention that there is footage circulating on social media and we would politely ask that people refrain from sharing the video for the same reasons,” a spokesman for the police said.
A similar incident took place in Devon and Cornwall, where police say they received a barrage of calls from people about individuals deliberately coughing at others in an attempt to scare them into thinking that they are infected with the coronavirus.
Another incident, took place in West Midlands where police picked up a man who, after coughing at shop staff, claimed to be infected with the coronavirus.
The suspect, a 57-year-old man, was arrested on suspicion of theft and assault after several people reported that he coughed at shop staff who suspected him of stealing.
According to West Midlands police, the man, who has suspected mental health problems, has been taken into custody and will be questioned in due course. (Related: London struggles to cope with an ‘explosion’ of coronavirus cases in the city: Prime Minister Johnson puts city on lockdown.)
In a statement published in The Grimsby Telegraph, police and crime historian Mark Rothwell, described the recent slew of similar incidents as “pathetic behavior.”
“We were talking in a briefing last week, wondering whether we would start to hear stuff like this. I am saddened to learn that it has become a reality,” Rothwell said.
The incidents at Hertfordshire, Devon and Cornwall and West Midlands, all seem to be the latest in a spate of misdemeanors in the U.K. involving people who would cough and pretend to be sick amid the rising number of coronavirus cases around the world.
This behavior, unfortunately, is not isolated in the United Kingdom.
Early last month, a Canadian passenger was arrested after forcing a WestJet flight from Toronto to Jamaica to turn back after yelling he had coronavirus.
The 29-year-old passenger, according to a report by MSN, was charged with misdemeanor after he stood up to tell the crew and other passengers that he had recently been to China and had tested positive for the virus.
Likewise, Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert met similar criticism after his prank during a media conference wherein he jokingly touched reporters’ microphones and talked about the coronavirus.
Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus soon after, as did his teammate Donovan Mitchells.
As of press time, the COVID-19 coronavirus has been confirmed to have 381,000 and killed 16,553 globally.