Greater Manchester Police said Mateusz Rejewski, 33, of no fixed abode, has been charged with one count of common assault on an emergency service worker and one count of breaching a dispersal notice.
The force said officers in the city's Piccadilly Gardens on Thursday were detaining Rejewski for breaching a dispersal order when he allegedly coughed at an officer while claiming he had coronavirus.
The officer is self-isolating as a precaution.
Rejewski has been remanded in custody and will appear at Manchester Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.
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