Man imprisoned for coughing, shouting ‘corona’ at police

A view of a deserted Stroeget street amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Copenhagen, on January 12, 2021 [Emil Helms Ritzau Scanpix/via Reuters]
A view of a deserted Stroeget street amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Copenhagen, on January 12, 2021

Denmark’s Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced a man to four months’ imprisonment for coughing at two police officers while shouting “corona” during a routine traffic stop in March last year.

The incident, which took place when the country was under full coronavirus lockdown, led to the defendant being arrested on charges of threatening behaviour, although he later tested negative for COVID-19. First acquitted in a local court, he was later convicted at Denmark’s Western High Court. At his Supreme Court appeal against that conviction, prosecutors sought a jail term of three to five months. Other similar incidents were reported in Denmark last year, partly reflecting declining public trust in the government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, while similar cases were reported in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

English and Welsh police forces registered 200 incidents a week of spitting or coughing at officers – usually preceded by the offenders saying they were infected, an investigation last April by British daily The Telegraph found. The Danish defendant, a man in his early twenties, was also convicted of fleeing the police following his preliminary questioning at the city court. More than 2,300 people have died with coronavirus in Denmark since the pandemic began, while the country has recorded at least 206,000 cases of infection.

Meanwhile, in a controversial move, its government has said it is joining forces with businesses to develop a digital passport that would show whether people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, allowing them to travel and help ease restrictions on public life. The announcement of the “digital corona passport” prompted protests in Copenhagen, in which demonstrators, many not wearing masks, rallied against the move.

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