Health Minister Simon Harris has said two people deliberately coughed at him yesterday.
He was speaking amid a number of reports of people coughing in others faces as a prank during the coronavirus crisis.
Speaking at a press conference at Government Buildings this afternoon, Minister Harris said it happened to him in Dublin city centre yesterday.
Simon Harris says a man and woman came up and coughed in his face deliberately yesterday and thought it was hilarious.
"It's quite pathetic" he says
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) March 25, 2020
He said: “I was walking from here to my department, and a man on a woman on the street thought it was hilariously funny to come up and cough at me out loud, and then run off laughing.
“Can we please as people look at Italy, in the European Union, where we’re seeing several hundred people a day dying of a virus that can be deadly to certain people in our population.”
Minister Harris said coughing in people’s face appears to be some sort of ‘social media game’.
However, he observed: “It’s not a game: it’s disgusting.
“Just think if it was your own granny, granddad, mother, father, your own friend with an underlying health condition like cystic fibrosis.”
The Health Minister said the Irish people in general have been “amazing” in responding to the strict COVID-19 measures currently in place - but noted that any dangerous social media trends “will have to be dealt with” using the full powers of the State.
He added: "There's absolutely nothing amusing about it - it's quite pathetic."