Man charged with trying to infect Edmonton transit workers with COVID-19

A 38-year-old man coughed on an Edmonton bus driver and transit peace officers, then said he had tested positive for coronavirus, police said Monday.

Coughed on bus driver and peace officers, then said he had coronavirus, police say

The incident took place Sunday when after an altercation occurred on an Edmonton bus. (David Bajer/CBC)

A 38-year-old man has been charged with attempting to infect Edmonton transit workers with COVID-19 by coughing on them.

In a news release Monday, police said they received a report around 12:30 p.m. Sunday about an assault taking place on an Edmonton Transit Service bus parked near Southgate Centre.

Transit peace officers were trying to arrest the man, who had been in a physical altercation with another passenger on the bus. The driver pulled over and stopped the bus, police said.

"At that point, it is alleged that the accused entered the bus driver's enclosure and repeatedly coughed on the bus driver," the news release said.

"Police were also told that the accused coughed on the transit peace officers during their arrest, before acknowledging he had tested positive for COVID-19."

Police are still trying to confirm the man's claim that he has COVID-19 and had been tested several days earlier. Because of the intent to harm, he was charged, EPS spokeperson Scott Pattison said in an email.

As a precaution, the bus driver and two peace officers are now in self-isolation at home "as a result of this individual's irresponsible actions," Pattison said.

The police officers on the scene were wearing personal protective equipment, he added.

The man has been charged with two counts of assault, one count of assaulting a peace officer, and contravening an order of the chief medical officer under the Public Health Act.

The man is scheduled to appear in court on June 16. He has not been taken into custody.

Public complaints about non-compliance of public health orders can be filed on the Alberta Health Services website, and not by calling 911, police said.


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