A New York Muslim firefighter has tested positive for coronavirus nine days after three teenagers deliberately sneezed on him, The New York Post reports.
The alleged sneeze assault on Omar Sattar, 33, is described in a letter from Lt. Kasey Koslowski of Engine Co. 282 to Thomas Richardson, the Department’s Chief of Operations.
While the engine company responded to a call Sattar was inspecting a hydrant when he was approached by “three Hasidic Jewish teens.” The trio “taunted him and asked him if he was afraid of the coronavirus,” the letter says.
“After repeated attempts to keep distance from the boys, one of them sneezed into his face and they ran off,” it says.
The firefighter started experiencing flu-like symptoms four days after the “unusual occurrence,” the letter says. He was subsequently tested for coronavirus and placed on medical leave on March 24 while awaiting the results. The test came back positive on March 27.
“Although we will not be able to tell if this positive COVID-19 test result is a direct outcome of the previous incident, what we do know is the continued lack of disregard by the citizens of [Borough]Park for the state of emergency policy,” the letter reads.
It adds: “In a time when personal space and social distancing is at an all-time high, it is going to take a cumulative effort from everyone to defeat this virus, including the residents of [Borough] Park.”
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It is believed that a minority of Hasidic Jews in New York have been thumbing their noses at social-distancing guidelines amid the deadly pandemic.
In particular, one such incident included Hasidic Jews gathering in Brooklyn for the funeral of a rabbi who died of coronavirus. The religious community flouted social distancing rules and held at least two packed funerals on the streets of Brooklyn on Sunday.
Police tried to disperse the crowds by ordering attendees to leave the area using loud speakers.
Orthodox neighbourhoods are understood to be at higher risk of contracting the virus due to their close-nit communities, according to authorities.