A Chinese woman successfully repelled a thief and alleged rapist by pretending to cough and telling the man that she was from the Chinese city of Wuhan where the recent coronavirus outbreak began, authorities confirmed on Monday.
Local officials confirmed that the suspect, named as 25-year-old Xiao, reportedly broke into the woman’s bedroom last Friday night in the city of Jingshan, around three hours from Wuhan.
As he tried to force herself on her, the woman shouted, “I just returned from Wuhan and have been infected, therefore I am home alone in self-quarantine.”
The healthy woman, identified by police as Yi, also pretended to cough as Xiao tried to pin her down by squeezing her neck and covering her mouth. This stunt allegedly frightened Xiao, who stepped back from the assault. He then took 3,080 yuan ($440) in cash before fleeing the scene.
In a statement posted on Chinese social media, the local police department described the incident in detail, noting how Xiao left his home following an argument with his family in search of things to burgle. The post also included a bizarre cartoon of a man eyeing up someone’s valuables through an open window.
“Xiao was frightened when he heard my claims, and quickly grabbed the bedside phone worth 3,000 yuan and a bag of more than 80 yuan in cash before fleeing the scene,” the girl told police.
Yi contacted the police right away and a manhunt was launched in the town. However, efforts were somewhat hampered by the fact that all locals were wearing face masks to protect themselves from infection. Eventually, Xiao reportedly surrendered himself to police alongside his father and admitted wrongdoing, saying he went out with the intent to commit robbery. He is currently being held in detention.
As of Monday afternoon, Chinese authorities claimed that the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus is fast approaching 25,000. Another 494 people have died as a result of the virus, and 980 have made recoveries. There are concerns that China may be lying about the numbers of those infected, as Beijing seeks to protect the country’s economic interests as countries around the world urge their citizens to avoid the Chinese mainland.
With the virus now spreading sporadically around the world, including within the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO) last week declared the outbreak as an international health emergency.
“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on announcing the emergency. “Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it.”