Police Hunting Man Wearing 'I Have The Coronavirus' Sign Who Sprayed Lysol On Walmart Produce

Police are looking for a masked man who walked into a Walmart in Illinois and sprayed disinfectant on items while wearing a sign that read: "Caution I have the coronavirus."

The Joliet Police Department said they were called to the store in the 1400 block of Route 59 shortly after 4 p.m. CST on Sunday.

Two men walked into the store and one donned a yellow surgical mask before spraying Lysol on produce, clothing and health and beauty items, police said in a news release. The man in the mask also wore the handmade sign on his back.

Walmart coronavirus
Police said a masked man who entered a Walmart in Joliet, Illinois, wearing a sign that read "Caution I have the Coronavirus" sprayed Lysol on produce, causing almost $10,000 worth of damage. Joliet Police Department

By the time officers arrived at the store, the two men had left, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Some customers in the store who witnessed the incident confronted the men, Joliet police spokesman Sgt. Chris Botzum told the newspaper. He said police do not believe anyone was exposed to the deadly virus in the incident.

Tony Prokes, who was shopping in the Walmart at the time, told ABC7 that the man kept telling shoppers that he was "protecting" them.

"He was spraying all the produce with Lysol," Prokes told the station. "He was telling everyone the same thing, that he was protecting them from the virus."

Police said that Walmart estimated the damages at more than $7,300. The store also had cleanup costs of more than $2,400.

"We were made aware of the situation on Sunday involving the individual causing a disruption inside the store," a Walmart spokesperson told Newsweek. "That individual left the store prior to police being able to make contact and we've provided information to assist law enforcement."

Walmart Coronavirus
Police have released surveillance photos of the two suspects, described as white and in their 20s, in a bid to track them down. Joliet Police Department

Police have released surveillance photos of the men and are appealing to the public in a bid to track them down. They said the men, who are described as white and thought to be in their 20s, were seen leaving the store in a white 2003 GMA Yukon registered in the village of Oswego. The Joliet Police Department have been contacted for additional comment.

Anyone with information about the suspects is urged to contact the Joliet Police Department at 815-724-3020 or call Detective Ryan Myers at 815-724-3056. Tips can be reported anonymously to the Will County Crime Stoppers at 800-323-6734 or online.

The incident comes as the death toll from the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak rose to almost 500. China's National Health Commission said 490 people have died from the virus in mainland China while the number of people infected has climbed to more than 24,000.

Outside mainland China, at least 180 cases have been confirmed, along with two deaths, in the Philippines and Hong Kong. Both patients had traveled from Wuhan, China, the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

The virus has spread to 23 other countries, including the U.S., where 11 people have tested positive for the virus in the states of Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington. The first case of human-to-human transmission in the U.S. was reported when a man in Chicago caught the disease from his wife after she had returned from Wuhan.

This article has been updated with a comment from Walmart.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows the confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world as of February 5.

Coronavirus map 5 February Statista
Countries where coronavirus has been confirmed. Statista
Police Hunting Man Wearing 'I Have The Coronavirus' Sign Who Sprayed Lysol On Walmart Produce | U.S.