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Surrey mother who is now self-isolating says woman intentionally coughed on her
Published Friday, April 3, 2020 8:00AM PDT
VANCOUVER -- A Surrey, B.C., mother is in self-isolation, and says she's worried she may have been infected with COVID-19 after an interaction on a footpath turned nasty.
Kimberley Wadman says she was walking her dog along the Willoughby Trail Tuesday night when a woman in a long, dark coat approached, walking within about 30 centimetres of her.
"I said, 'You realize we're supposed to be at least six feet apart?' as I had to back up into a bush to create some space," the Clayton Heights resident told CTV News two days later.
"And the lady yells, 'What? Do you think you and your dog are the only ones allowed on this grass?'"
Kimberley says she explained the physical distancing protocols issued by health officials when the woman became aggressive.
"She came to me and she coughed right into my face and she yelled, 'I've had the coronavirus for two weeks.'"
Kimberley quickly went home, showered and washed her clothes, and then she called her daughter.
"She told me that she just was assaulted," Rachel Wadman said. "I couldn't believe that something like this could happen. I would have thought it was a joke if she wasn't crying."
Kimberley is now fearful of leaving her house, saying she's worried she may have been infected with COVID-19 during the encounter.
"It's creating a lot of stress for my mom. She can't sleep properly, she's just worried non-stop," Rachel said. "We don't know if she did it just to get to her because she was mad, but whatever it is no person deserves this."
This is not the only case like this reported in Metro Vancouver.
London Drugs had to issue an email this week about incidents in stores.
The drug store's head of security, Tony Hunt, wrote, "We have seen a number of situations where visitors in our stores have lost their temper or used threats of spitting or coughing at staff as a threat to commit crimes. The retail community has been sharing information on these incidents. The behaviour is often spontaneous, not rational, nor easily deterred."
A video was also posted to the company's Facebook page. General manager of pharmacy Chris Chiew says in the video, "With everything that is happening around us, the one thing you can control is how we treat each other. Be patient and kind to one another when shopping and especially patient and kind to our staff."
Two transit police officers have since returned to work after a period of self-isolation. They were coughed at and spat on while making an arrest in New Westminster in March.
Kimberley says she reported the coughing incident to the police and was told, she says, that "they would do a drive by and see if they could see someone with the description.
"I'm doing this interview because I want people in the area to be aware that this lady is out there. She can be infected - you don't know. And if she does this to someone else, how many people is she going to be infecting with this virus?"