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Australian man facing prison after allegedly coughing on elderly police officer

A north coast man is facing prison after he was charged with a coronavirus prank during which he allegedly coughed on an elderly NSW Police officer while a friend filmed them.

A file image of actual SARS-CoV-2 - commonly known as the 2019/20 coronavirus - under an electron microscope. Source: Wikimedia Commons/NIAID-RML

The 21-year-old will appear in court in May after being charged over the incident at Coffs Harbour police station yesterday.

Detectives say the man entered the station and deliberately coughed on a 71-year-old female officer while claiming he had the potentially deadly virus.

A friend of the man filmed the incident.

"While inquiries were being made regarding the man's claims, the police station was closed, and the necessary isolation protocols were put in place," a police spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Upon further inquiries, it was revealed the man did not have the virus."

He was charged with stalking or intimidation with intent to cause fear of physical harm - which carries a maximum jail term of five years - and resisting arrest.

The Coffs Harbour local was granted bail and is scheduled to appear in court on May 6.