Muslim-American New York firefighter contracts coronavirus after Jewish teenager 'deliberately sneezed on him'

Muslim-American New York firefighter contracts coronavirus after Jewish teenager 'deliberately sneezed on him'
Three Jewish teenagers sneezed in the face of a Muslim firefighter. Four days later, he showed symptoms of the novel coronavirus.
2 min read
07 April, 2020
The firefighter was on duty when the incident occured [Getty]

A Muslim-American firefighter was tested positive for the novel coronavirus just days after three teenagers allegedly taunted him while on duty about the disease and sneezed in his face, the New York Post reported.

Omar Sattar was inspecting a hydrant on 18 March in Borough Park, Brooklyn when the group of Hasidic Jewish teenagers were said to have deliberately infected the firefighter.

The government employee was "taunted" by the trio and "asked him if he was afraid of the coronavirus", according to a letter of complaint sent to the FDNY's chief of operations, Thomas Richardson.

"After repeated attempts to keep [his] distance from the boys, one of them sneezed into his face and they ran off," the letter, written by Lt. Kasey Koslowski, continued.

The firefighter began showing symptoms of Covid-19, four days after the incident, testing positive for the virus on 27 March.

Though the incident cannot scientifically be directly linked to his positive testing, it shows a "lack of disregard" for New York's lockdown, the letter added.

"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," it said.

Read also: The NHS is in crisis, and black and brown communities are disproportionately paying the price

However, the New York's fire department [FDNY] rejected the "unofficial letter".

"We cannot comment on the veracity of the report," FDNY Spokesman Jim Long told The New York Post.

Meanwhile, social media users on Twitter mobilised against what was described as Islamophobic reporting of the story, with many slamming the initial report for highlighting convictions attributed to the firefighters father.

"@nypost take responsibility and stop trying to make him look bad when he did absolutely NOTHING," one Twitter user said.

"Now he has coronavirus. but the article wants to highlight things which are irrelevant, the article wants to talk about the victims father, and trying to relate the father’s actions/past to the son’s (victim) present. Trash," the user added.

The Covid-19 virus, which was first detected in China's Wuhan in December, has killed more than 76,383 people worldwide, while over 1,363,123 infections have been confirmed.

The majority of those that infected with Covid-19 experience only mild or moderate symptoms, including fever and a dry cough.

There are still no known treatments for the virus, though more than 293,839 have already recovered from the infection.

The US has 368,174 confirmed cases of the disease, which has killed 10,966 across the country.

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