Police Accuse Man of Licking His Fingers and Deliberately Rubbing Saliva on Supermarket Item Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Police in Britain charged a man who allegedly contaminated products at a supermarket by rubbing his saliva on them amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Benjamin Best, 20, of Dorset, southern England, allegedly entered a Lidl store while wearing a face mask and gloves at around 2 p.m. on Friday, April 3.

Dorset Police accused Best of then lowering the face mask and licking his fingers before purposefully rubbing them on an item in the store.

Best was subsequently arrested and charged with one count of contaminating or interfering with goods with intent.

Police said the suspect did not have a confirmed case of the coronavirus and was not displaying any symptoms. Best is next due to appear at Weymouth Magistrates' Court on May 6, 2020.

A general view of a Lidl store sign on July 4, 2019 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. A British man has been charged after allegedly contaminating products at a Lidl supermarket by rubbing his saliva on them. Matthew Horwood/Getty

There have been a number of incidents involving people deliberately coughing and spitting on people or objects during the pandemic.

Last month, a Pennsylvania supermarket said it had to throw out more than $35,000 worth of food after a woman purposefully coughed on a number of items.

Joe Fasula, co-owner of Gerrity's Supermarket, accused the woman of playing a "very twisted prank" by causing panic at their Hanover Township store.

"While it is always a shame when food is wasted, in these times when so many people are worried about the security of our food supply, it is even more disturbing," Fasula said.

Supermarket workers removed the woman from the store and she was later taken to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Elsewhere, a man was arrested in Arizona by Yuma Police after video footage emerged allegedly showing him coughing on a gas pump handle and talking about spreading the coronavirus on April 4.

The suspect, identified as a 23-year-old male from Winterhaven, California, faces charges of unlawful use of an infectious biological substance.

During police interviews, he told officers he was copying videos that he had seen online over the past few weeks. The man also did not show any symptoms of the virus.

"Please remember that social distancing along with the use of gloves and disinfectant during this crisis is an important defense against COVID-19," Yuma Police Sergeant Lori Franklin said.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus.

There are more than 1.28 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world, with over 70,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. A total of 270,372 people have recovered from the virus.

This graph, provided by Statista, shows the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of April 6.

Coronavirus COVID-19 United States Statista
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19
    • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
    • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
    • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
    • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
    • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

    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.