‘Did you cough at me?’: Coronavirus anxiety sparks transit confrontation

Click to play video: 'Train passenger’s coughing etiquette leads to argument amid coronavirus concerns'
Train passenger’s coughing etiquette leads to argument amid coronavirus concerns
WATCH: A cellphone video captures an argument on a Sydney, Australia passenger train after a man criticizes a woman for her coughing etiquette. After trading insults, the woman openly coughs in the man's direction. – Mar 10, 2020

A cough on the train at any other time may have been received much differently than it was on Sunday in Sydney, Australia.

Given the growing fears over the new coronavirus as it spreads around the world, one woman’s cough caused quite a stir on an Australian train with an unknown destination.

Andy Park, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist, caught the tense moment on camera when a woman’s cough sent her and an angry passenger spiralling into a heated argument.

In the video footage, the two begin fighting over the woman’s coughing etiquette, something that’s been a topic of discussion as an important way to control the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

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“I did not open my mouth when I coughed,” she says in the video. “I coughed inside my mouth.”

The man responds: “It’s disgusting,” to which she replies: “Yeah, you’re disgusting, too.”

She proceeds to cough seemingly intentionally in the man’s direction.

“Are you serious? Did you just cough at me?” he asks her.

She simply responds: “Yeah,” before calling him a bully.

“Bully? I asked you politely to please cover your mouth,” he says.

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“Yes, I did not open my mouth when I coughed,” she continues. “Don’t you listen?”

Click to play video: 'What parents need to know about COVID-19'
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“The advice from the government has been—” he says before being cut off by the woman’s response: “Oh, just shut up. Look, just be quiet. I don’t want to hear this.”

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The man can be seen putting on his sunglasses and headphones as the video cuts to a black screen.

The video has been watched more than 184,000 times amid surging tensions around the outbreak in Australia and around the globe.

“That dude needs to lock himself inside if he’s that worried,” one user wrote in response to the video.

“The innocent guy has a right to be worried,” added another person on Twitter. “I always put my hand over my mouth when coughing in public.”

The WHO encourages people to cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue.

Australia is now dealing with a rising number of COVID-19 patients just after getting the devastating wildfires under control that burned around 13.3 million acres of the country’s land, NPR reports.

By Tuesday, there were 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and three deaths. Ten of these cases are associated with the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

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The vast majority of people recover from COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe symptoms may take three to six weeks to recover.

More than 4,000 people have died from the virus worldwide.

— With files from the Associated Press

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