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'Awful, really frightening': Woman purposefully coughed and spat on by two youths while out walking

Fianna Fáil’s James Lawless is calling for a serious conviction for those found guilty of deliberating trying to spread Covid-19.
Mar 26th 2020, 2:20 PM 54,740 140

A DUBLIN WOMAN has said she was purposefully coughed and spat on by two young boys while out walking in Dún Laoghaire yesterday evening. 

Similar incidents have been reported around the country, thought to have spawned from the so-called ‘Corona Challenge’ on social media in which young people video themselves coughing into people’s faces.

Yesterday, Health Minister Simon Harris said two people approached him in public and purposefully coughed in his face before walking away laughing.

Speaking to the Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio, Linda Cullen described the incident that left her terribly upset. 

Cullen said she was on her usual walk along Dún Laoghaire harbour’s west pier when she noticed two young boys walking toward her. 

“I was on the phone to my aunt at the time, and I looked behind me for no cars coming so I stepped around them onto the road. I don’t know whether they took umbrage at me stepping out or what, I have no idea. 

“There were really quite young, one was barely older than my own children, about 10 years old. The older one was about 14 or 13. 

“The older one just turned and coughed at me, coughed or spit or sneezed. I don’t know which but he did that thing.”  

Cullen said she was in shock but had heard about other, similar incidents mentioned on the radio, so she wanted to call them out.  

I said: ‘Lads you can’t be doing that. You might think it’s funny. It’s not funny. It’s really frightening and it’s really dangerous at the moment’.

After this, she says the younger of the two ran toward her coughing and spitting.

“In some ways, I felt very unthreatened because they were young, but I felt more threatened than I possibly ever have in my life at the same time, because of what coughing and spitting can do at the moment.”

Cullen said the boys continued to follow her even after she called gardaí. It wasn’t until she took out her phone to take a picture of the pair that they finally left her alone. 

“I kind of had held together at that point, but I have to say I disintegrated after. I was just so upset.”

Cullen said her aunt and uncle drove down to the pier and gave her bleach wipes they had in their car. 

“I literally was wiping myself off with bleach and I was crying. I was bawling crying. So these two little kids were able to scare the living daylights out of middle-aged woman. 

‘The will not get away with it’ 

Fianna Fáil’s James Lawless is calling for a serious conviction for those found guilty of deliberate coughing and spitting with intent to spread Covid-19. 

The Kildare North TD has submitted an amendment to be considered during today’s Dáil sitting.

“As it stands under section six of the Non-fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 it is an offence to spray, pour or put onto a person blood or any fluid or substance resembling blood, leading a person to believe that they have become infected with disease as a result,” Lawless explained. 

“The amendment I have submitted broadens this definition so that it is not only fluids or substances resembling blood which are covered by the Act.

We have to get very tough on this. We have already heard of one instance of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 deliberately coughing at a frontline health worker – there can be zero tolerance for this.

Lawless said it is “deeply frustrating” that a tiny minority are not following public health guidelines but warned: “let there be no doubt, they will not get away with it”.

Separately, Police in Northern Ireland have charged a 39-year-old man with common assault and two counts of attempting to commit grievous bodily harm. 

The charge of common assault relates to a domestic incident at a house in north Belfast yesterday, 25 March.  Following the arrest, the 39-year-old claimed to have Covid-19 and purposefully coughed on two police officers.

He is expected to appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court today.

On Monday, gardaí arrested a male in his late teens for a Public Order Offence in Dungarvan in Waterford after allegedly coughing at people.

Gardaí confirmed today that they are in the process of ordering thousands of so-called “spit hoods” which will be used to protect members of the force from potentially contracting Covid-19.

The devices cover the faces of individuals who have been arrested in order to prevent them from spitting at or coughing on police.

They will be temporarily deployed to help prevent individual gardaí from contracting the coronavirus, which can spread through small droplets emitted through coughing or by spitting. 

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