People who deliberately cough at police officers while claiming to have coronavirus could face up to two years in jail.
Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, spoke out following a string of threats linked to the deadly virus amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Crown Prosecution Service said assaults against emergency workers were punishable by up to two years in prison, while coughs directed as a threat towards other key workers or members of the public could be charged as common assault.
The warning comes after Darren Rafferty, 45, admitted on Wednesday to deliberately coughing at Metropolitan Police officers before claiming he was suffering from coronavirus.
He admitted causing grievous bodily harm to his former partner and three counts of assault on an emergency worker and faces sentencing next month.