Man Jailed After Stealing Three Surgical Face Masks From A Hospital Amid Coronavirus Crisis

A man in the U.K. has been jailed for three months after he was caught stealing three surgical masks from a hospital amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Police officers were called to King's College Hospital in south London at around 11.20 a.m. after the theft took place, London's Metropolitan Police said in a news release.

Lerun Hussain, 34, was detained by security staff at the hospital after he stole the personal protective equipment.

When police arrived at the scene, he was arrested on suspicion theft and also detained for being in breach of a court order, police said. Hussain was charged with theft later on Sunday.

Lerun Hussain
Lerun Hussain, 34, was jailed for three months after stealing three surgical masks from a hospital in London. Metropolitan Police, U.K.

Hussain, of Clapham, London, was jailed for three months at Croydon Magistrates' Court on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to the charge. The Metropolitan Police and King's College Hospital have been contacted for additional comment.

The theft came amid concerns about a dire shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks that are needed to protect hospital staff in the U.K. as they deal with increasing numbers of coronavirus patients.

The Guardian reported that some doctors and nurses have been forced to fashion makeshift masks out of snorkels and other materials due to the shortage.

Meanwhile, the difficulty of procuring items such as masks and hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic appears to have led to an uptick in thefts related to those items.

Last week, a man was jailed after stealing items including face masks and hand sanitizer from an ambulance outside a different London hospital. Mark Manley, 35, was handed a six-month sentence after he admitted to stealing equipment from the stationary ambulance near Guy's Hospital and assaulting a security guard.

And last month, nurses at Teddington Memorial Hospital in London chased after suspects who stole hand sanitizer until police arrived at the scene. Advanced nurse practitioner Eileen Carney-Jones wrote on Twitter that the suspects had opened a hand sanitizer dispenser and stolen its contents.

The U.K. has more than 55,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 6,000 deaths, according to the latest figures from Public Health England. London alone has more than 13,000 cases.

This infographic, provided by Statista, shows locations around the world by number of confirmed COVID-19 cases as of April 8.

This infographic shows locations around the world by number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. 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. (
  • 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.
Man Jailed After Stealing Three Surgical Face Masks From A Hospital Amid Coronavirus Crisis | World