People to be prosecuted under terrorism law, if they intentionally spread coronavirus: US Justice Dept

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 27, 2020, 01.07 AM(IST)

A man wearing a face mask takes a walk on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade on March 24, 2020 in New York. Photograph:( AFP )

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The third-degree terrorism charge carries a sentence of three to five years in state prison.  

The death toll has topped one thousand in the United States. In these extraordinary times, the US Justice Department has given the green light to use anti-terrorism laws to investigate and prosecute people who attempt or threaten to intentionally infect others with the deadly coronavirus.

These warnings are not simply precautionary measures. The law enforcement agencies have made it clear that when such threats or intentional exposures come to light, they are going to enforce the law.

A 50-year-old man from New Jersey, George Falcone has been charged with making terroristic threats after allegedly coughing in the direction of a local supermarket employee and claiming he suffered from the coronavirus.

The third-degree terrorism charge carries a sentence of three to five years in state prison.  

Falcone denies that he has COVID-19 and that he coughed on the supermarket worker.

The Justice Department has not made it clear whether perpetrators must actually have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis to be charged with terrorism-related crimes.

This development comes as the coronavirus outbreak crisis continues to intensify across with the US, with nearly 60,000 Americans testing positive for COVID-19 as of now.

More than twenty-one thousand people have died worldwide as a result of the highly-contagious virus.