An Garda Síochána has confirmed that three investigations are underway into members of the emergency services being coughed or spat at while on duty in Dublin and Waterford.
Two of the investigations concern incidents in Dublin - in Dún Laoghaire and Blanchardstown respectively - while another investigation is in connection with an incident in Dungarvan in Waterford.
An Garda Síochána said it is aware of ongoing social media reports in relation to people engaged in ‘coughing’ at others and warned that it will treat any reports of this type of activity seriously.
People found engaging in the activity could be found guilty of an offence under the Public Order Act or Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.
News of the investigations comes after Minister for Health Simon Harris claimed on Wednesday that he was coughed at by a man and a woman on the street as a joke.
"This happened to me yesterday actually as I was walking from here to my department and a man and woman on the street thought it was hilariously funny to come up and cough at me and run off laughing,” Harris said.
"Can we please as a people just look at what's happening in Italy? We're seeing several hundred people a day dying of a virus that could be deadly to certain people in our population."
Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin also hit out at the unseemly trend on social media on Wednesday evening.
A question for those who think that coughing and spitting at people during #COVID19 is funny. What is wrong with you? So many people are making such huge sacrifices. When your kids ask you what you did in 2020 to fight the virus, you really want the answer be ‘I was an idiot’?
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) March 25, 2020