Health: Criminal Coughing in Denmark

The Story:

The highest court in Denmark, last week, sentenced a man to four months in jail for coughing at a police officer during an (otherwise) routine traffic stop. He coughed and yelled “Corona!” at the officer. The court’s opinion and sentence was right in the middle of the three-to-five month range for which prosecutors had asked.


The incident occurred almost a year ago, in March, at the height of Denmark’s Covid-19 lockdown. Late last year, Denmark was registering thousands of new Covid-19 cases per day. Since then, that number has come down markedly, to where it is measured in hundreds rather than thousands. There is some sentiment that the lockdown enforcement measures could and should be made less severe.

In Pill Form:

The 20 year old defendant (who tested negative for Covid, so the police officer was never in actual danger from the cough) was acquitted in a local court. The government appealed that acquittal and won a conviction. Then the defendant appealed the conviction, bringing the matter to the country’s highest court for decision. Now it appears the defendant will have to serve his time.

It also seems very unlikely that, given the political culture in the United States, any analogous jail-for-a-cough decision would come about here. But whether that is a strength or a weakness for the US vis-a-vis Denmark must be left a matter of individual judgment.



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