An incident involving a blind woman who was deliberately coughed on by a stranger is being treated as a hate crime by police.
The woman in her 50s was walking on Halifax Road in Wiltshire, England on Saturday evening (local time) when her guide dog alerted her to the presence of a stranger nearby.
The woman shouted as she was blind she would not be able to maintain the UK’s social distancing recommendation of two metres amid the coronavirus crisis and asked the person to keep their distance.
She alleges the person then moved closer toward her and coughed directly in her face.
“The victim felt their breath against her cheek,” Wiltshire police reported.
Sergeant David Hambly described the act as “completely unacceptable behaviour” in a media release appealing for witnesses and anyone in the area with footage of the incident.
“Especially due to the current climate, the victim felt especially anxious and shocked by this person’s actions and immediately went home, and washed her face and hands,” Sgt Hambly said.
“This is completely unacceptable behaviour and we are treating this as an incident of hate crime – the suspect in this case has shown complete disregard for this woman’s health and vulnerabilities and I know members of the local community will be both saddened and disappointed to hear of this person’s actions.”
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently in intensive care after contracting the coronavirus.
According to Johns Hopkins data, there have been more than 5300 COVID-19 deaths in the UK and more than 52,000 people have contracted the virus.
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