Teenage McDonald's Staff Member Arrested After Allegedly Faking Coronavirus to Get Out of Work

An 18-year-old McDonald's staffer has been charged with fraud in Canada after she pretended to have contracted COVID-19 to avoid having to go to work, police say.

The Ontario teenager allegedly created a fake physician's note that stated she had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and gave it to her supervisor on March 19. The restaurant, located on Rymal Road, immediately closed and bosses sent all other employees home to self-isolate.

Hamilton Police said in a statement today the McDonald's had remained closed for "several days" while cleaning crews were brought in to sanitize the fast food outlet.

"There has been a significant impact on the restaurant, local customers and employees which instigated the need for police involvement," the department added.

Officials said they received information about the fraudulent note from Hamilton Public Health Services on March 23.

The suspect was arrested yesterday and charged with fraud, mischief, use of a forged document, and making a forged document. The 18-year-old was released but scheduled to appear in court on May 18. "Faking COVID19 is not a way to get off work," law enforcement wrote on Twitter.

"We have chosen not to name her," Hamilton Police Const. Lorraine Edwards told The Toronto Sun. "We don't feel there is compelling public interest. This is the stance we decided to take."

Last Sunday, McDonald's Canada spokesperson Ryma Boussoufa confirmed the teen had worked on March 15 between noon to 8 p.m., the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported.

"Out of an abundance of caution, McDonald's Canada made the decision to immediately shut down the restaurant for a thorough cleaning and sanitation by 3rd party cleaning experts," Boussoufa said at the time, noting the business was in contact with Ontario Public Health to verify the report.

There have been 835 positive COVID-19 cases in Ontario, authorities say. The disease has caused 15 deaths in the region, while eight people have recovered. Tracking data published by Johns Hopkins University says that Canada has recorded at least 4,046 total cases of the infectious illness.

A state of emergency has been declared in Ontario that outlaws all organized public events of over 50 people, including "parades, events and communal services within places of worship." Libraries, schools, cinemas, concert venues, bars, restaurants and theaters are temporarily closed.

The U.S. currently has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, with at least 86,012 positive infections. Globally, the highly-infectious novel coronavirus has now spread to more than 553,240 people.

The McDonald's restaurant is seen September 10, 2016 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. An 18-year-old female has been charged with fraud in Canada after being accused of pretending to have contracted COVID-19 to avoid having to go to work, police said. KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks.
  • Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.