The Fire Department of New York and the victim himself refused to comment on the story, leading to speculations on its veracity.
A letter from a lieutenant at New York’s fire department (FDNY) claims to narrate the incident.
However, the FDNY dismissed the letter as “not official” and refused to comment on the veracity of the allegations to the New York Post. Sattar, the victim, also did not comment on the allegations, leading to speculations about the story and its truthfulness.
According to the letter, Sattar was inspecting a fire hydrant on March 18 in Brooklyn, New York City, when a group of teenagers began to harass him.
The trio allegedly approached the firefighter and asked if he was afraid of the coronavirus.
“After repeated attempts to keep [his] distance from the boys, one of them sneezed into his face and they ran off,” said the letter.
Sattar began showing symptoms of COVID-19 four days after the incident and tested positive for the virus on March 27, the source continued.
“Although we will not be able to tell if this positive COVID-19 test result is a direct outcome of the previous incident, what we do know is the continued lack of [regard] by the citizens of [Borough] Park for the state of emergency policy,” the letter said.
“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,” it continued.
New York City, the largest city in the US, went into lockdown on March 22 to control the spread of COVID-19.
At the time of writing, the city has recorded over 68,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 2,700 deaths. The city’s figures are larger than in several highly affected countries, such as Iran, the UK, and Turkey.
The US remains the most affected country by COVID-19, with over 390,000 confirmed cases. The country recorded nearly 25,000 cases on April 7 alone.
The country ranks third by coronavirus-related fatalities, behind Spain and Italy, with over 12,000 deaths.