Fianna Fáil says people found guilty of deliberately coughing or spitting on anyone during the current crisis should receive a tough conviction.

The party is calling for new legislation to be introduced to tackle the issue.

TD James Lawless says an amendment could be made to current legislation.

“As it stands under Section 6 of the Non-fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 it is an offence to spray, pour or put onto a person blood or any fluid or substance resembling blood, leading a person to believe that they have become infected with disease as a result,” he explained.

The amendment I have submitted broadens this definition so that it is not only fluids or substances resembling blood which are covered by the Act.

“We have to get very tough on this. We have already heard of one instance of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 deliberately coughing at a frontline health worker – there can be zero tolerance for this.

His comments come as gardaí are to be issued with ‘spit hoods’ to protect them from detainees for the duration of the public health crisis.

It follows a number of incidents where front line workers have been coughed at or spat on during the course of their work.

Gardaí say spit hoods will be deployed as a temporary measure for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

The device covers the entire face of a suspect and stops them spitting at, coughing on or biting officers.

It follows a number of incidents where front line workers have been coughed on or spat at.

Gardaí are investigating one incident at Blanchardstown Hospital in Dublin, where a healthcare worker was spat at deliberately.

Her alleged attacker has since tested positive for Covid-19.

Gardaí are calling on people to report any instances where they have been threatened or intimidated by people deliberately coughing and spitting at them.

They said this activity could amount to an offence under the Public Order Act or Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.


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