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COVID-19: Moscow metro prankster faces five years in jail

As concerns grow over the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, Russia has arrested a prankster for imitating the symptoms of the virus. The prankster collapsed on the metro train as a joke.

What transpired

Online videos show the young man wearing a face mask on the train suddenly falling to the floor and convulsing. His friends shout to the commuter’s and passengers that he has the virus. Passengers panic and start moving away from him.

Initially, passengers rush to help him, but when he starts convulsing, they scramble away. The action had a substantial effect on the passenger as they began to rush out of the train creating a real risk of stampede and injuries.

Police took in the suspect, Karomatullo Dzhaborov, and detained him on February 8th on suspicion of hooliganism. The crime carries a sentence of up to five years in a Russian prison. Russia’s Interior Ministry said that the police also identified two of his alleged accomplices.

The accomplices have orders not to leave the Russian capital. The investigators seized all their laptops and smartphones in case there is any evidence on them.

The case

Mr Karomatullo’s lawyer said that he had agreed to be interviewed by the police when they contacted him. The lawyer reported that Karomatullo did not hide from the authorities. The interrogating officer said they might dismiss the case.

Aleksey Popov, the lawyer said that his client’s pranks were a way of raising awareness of the coronavirus situation. He added that his client has a bunch of other videos on different topics relevant in society.

He added that his clients shot videos in stores asking people how much they knew about the virus. They also shot the videos at the pharmacies that sold the masks at an inflated price. Aleksey said that his client just wanted to create awareness and that it wasn’t a crime to do so.

Cases in Russia

Russia has quarantined at least 144 people in a fenced facility in Siberia. The country has two confirmed cases currently receiving treatment. Health officials said that the virus is capable of spreading before the symptoms show.

The symptoms include; fever, shortness of breath, coughing and can progress to pneumonia and respiratory failure.

Russia is taking a large scale effort to prevent the spread of the epidemic. They have set up facilities in Moscow and elsewhere across the country to quarantine those who may become ill. The population is still wary of the constant media coverage of the virus which has already taken more than 1100 lives.

Face masks have become a rare commodity in Russian pharmacies. Anti-viral drugs also spiked so dramatically the government had to intervene.

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