Teen Claiming to Have Coronavirus Spat at Three-Year-Old Girl and Her Father, Police Say

A teenager claiming to have coronavirus spat at a three-year-old girl and her father while they were out for a walk in the U.K., police said.

Police launched an investigation after the incident in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, on Sunday afternoon.

The girl and her father had been walking along Pinfold Lane at around 3.30 p.m. when they approached four teenagers who were on bikes, police said in a news release.

After the child told the group they should return to their homes, one of the teenagers spat into his hand and wiped it on her face, police said.

"When the child told the teenagers that they should go home, it is reported that one of them spat into his hand and wiped it on her face, saying he had COVID-19," South Yorkshire Police said. "The same teenager then spat towards the pair again before riding away with the rest of the group."

Police urged anyone with information about the incident to contact them. South Yorkshire Police have been contacted for additional comment.

A sign giving advice regarding COVID-19 is seen in the street as a pedestrian walk by in Huddersfield, northern England, on April 17, 2020. Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

The incident occurred while the girl and her father were taking the daily exercise they are permitted as part of the U.K.'s lockdown measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The U.K. is in its fifth week of a lockdown, with people only able to leave their homes for a few reasons, including shopping for necessities, one form of exercise per day, for medical or health purposes or to travel to and from work—but only if they cannot work from home. Police have been issued the power to fine those who breach the restrictions.

Last week, the U.K. government announced the measures would be extended for at least another three weeks as the country continues its fight against the spread of the virus.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he continues to recover from coronavirus, warned that lifting the measures too soon could lead to more fatalities.

"The very clear advice we have received is that any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus," he said during a news briefing on Thursday. "That would threaten a second peak of the virus, and substantially increase the number of deaths."

There are more than 125,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in the U.K. and more than 16,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Around 440 people have recovered in the U.K.

This infographic, provided by Statista, shows the countries with the most COVID-19 cases in the world.

Countries with the most COVID-19 cases
Countries with the most 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. (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.