A patient suspected of having the coronavirus has been jailed after he deliberately coughed in the face of a nurse who was treating him.

Lance King, 30, was taken to the Royal Stoke University Hospital as police were concerned for his welfare after displaying symptoms of Covid-19.

But his behaviour became erratic and he started moving around the A&E department.

He was told to get back in his cubicle by a staff nurse and a clinical support worker who were trying to keep a safe distance from him.

But he moved forward towards the nurse and intentionally coughed in her face.

The 30-year-old reacted when told to return to his cubicle at the Royal Stoke University Hospital

He then started to 'make a noise in his throat as if he was about to bring up something' - and spat at her colleague.

In another sickening move, he laughed as he moved closer to her. He then urinated all over the floor when they closed the cubicle.

Now King has been jailed for 12 months at North Staffordshire Justice Centre.

Prosecutor Dylan Wagg said the two victims were working at the Royal Stoke on April 6 looking after patients who have Covid-19 or are suspected to have the killer virus.

Mr Wagg said: “They had been attending to the defendant who became erratic and intentionally coughed in the face of a staff nurse.

“He brought the phlegm from his lungs and tried to spit at both emergency workers. The defendant urinated in the floor of his cubicle.

He was sentenced at North Staffordshire Justice Centre

“The Crown’s case is that it is an aggravating feature that it happened when we are in a pandemic. These workers are there to care for and look after any person in their care. He has abused that trust.”

King pleaded guilty to two offences of assaulting an emergency worker and criminal damage.

Garath Davies, mitigating, said the defendant is devastated by what he did.

Mr Davies said: “He accepts there is no reason for the nurses to make up what has gone on. He accepts prior to this he was detained at the Crown Hotel, Longton, by individuals and made good his escape.

"He was feeling paranoid. He approached police in Stoke. They called an ambulance and took him to hospital. He became agitated and these events took place.

“He can’t believe he has behaved in such a way. He asks me to apologise to anyone he has caused any distress to.”

District Judge Kevin Grego said: “There are occasions when unusual circumstances, under extreme circumstances, call for an extraordinary approach, and this is one of those occasions.

“Whatever your circumstances were, whether you felt paranoid, or miserable or fed up, you should not have been out in any event to behave in the way you did towards emergency workers.

Nurses are working overtime during the crisis

"They all provide an absolutely invaluable service to society. They do not look at the quality of the person who they are asked to deal with. They get on with the job. If they did you would not have been spoken to or seen anyone while at the hospital with your behaviour.

“The police had taken you to the hospital. They were concerned about your wellbeing. You appeared to be under the influence of monkey dust or something similar.

“You seemed to be compliant to begin with. The nurses were content at that stage that your behaviour did not require the attention of the police who the nurses considered already had plenty to do without babysitting you.

“You wanted to move out the cubicle. But you started behaving irrationally. You started to move about the A&E department. You wanted to go out for a cigarette. They asked you to stay in the cubicle.

"The staff nurse and a clinical support worker both told you to get back in the cubicle. They were standing more or less in the doorway of the cubicle trying to maintain a safe distance. You moved forward towards the nurse and coughed in her face. It was intentional.

“There is nothing that excuses what you have done.

"In a time of crisis like this people like you need to understand that emergency workers will be protected and those who behave in this way towards emergency workers can expect the full weight of punishment on their shoulders.”