Danish top court to decide if coughing a crime in COVID-19

In an appeal hearing to start on Thursday, Denmark’s top court are going to be asked to make a decision if coughing at someone while shouting ‘corona’ constitutes threatening behavior.

The 20-year-old defendant within the case was arrested in March, when the country was under a full coronavirus lockdown, after subjecting police to what prosecutors called the ‘ruthless and thoughtless’ actions during a routine traffic stop. He subsequently tested negative for Covid-19.

First acquitted during a local court, he was later convicted of the offense at Denmark’s Western supreme court , and, at his Supreme Court appeal against that conviction, prosecutors are seeking a jail term of three to 5 months. The Supreme Court is predicted to offer its verdict within the coughing case on February 18.

Other similar incidents of coughing directed at police were reported in Denmark last year, partially a mirrored image of simmering public discontent in some quarters against the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

The government, which says it follows a ‘precautionary principle’ in managing the virus, enjoyed almost unequivocal public support for swift action against Covid-19 early last year.

But opposition parties have begun to question what some consider an excessively cautious approach as infection rates fall, and 30 percent of Danes now think, the government’s measures are too far-reaching, consistent with a recent Aarhus University study.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in the week said lifting the lockdown required ‘complete epidemic control’.

In recent months, thousands have taken to the streets in protests, some violent, calling for authorities to ease lockdown curbs which they assert limit their freedom and are crippling businesses.

Virologists, health authorities, and therefore the government have defended the present curbs – which have locked down most of the county aside from essential shops – as vital to contain more infectious coronavirus variants, notably ones first identified in Britain and South Africa , that have reached Denmark.