Walker in plague doctor outfit draws attention of police

Police are keen to speak to a person who has been dressing as a 17th century plague doctor for walks during the coronavirus lockdown.

The unidentified individual has been spotted in the Norwich suburb of Hellesdon wearing a long black cloak, hat and pointed beak-like mask in recent weeks.

People posting on a community Facebook page said the outfit could frighten children, with Norfolk Police saying they wanted to give "words of advice" to the person.

Jade Gosbell, 21, took a photograph of the person walking across a recreation ground in Hellesdon.

"It was like 20 degrees, he was wearing a full black suit, it just looked ridiculous," she said.

"It's clearly for attention or something like that, because normal people just wouldn't do that."

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The furloughed gym worker continued: "I was sitting there and I was getting angry myself as my mum has a phobia of masks.

"I know that even in daylight if she was to go round the corner and bump into him she would be so scared.

"Kids would be frightened, my mum would be frightened, however some people really don't think it's that deep, they just think that he's having a laugh, he's just trying to find something to do with himself during isolation and lockdown."

Plague doctor outfit
(Jade Gosbell/PA)

She said she has not seen the person since a Facebook post drew attention to them, adding: "I was told that if I see him again to call the police."

In 17th century Europe, physicians who tended to plague victims wore a costume that has since taken on sinister overtones.

People mistakenly believed the outfits could purify poisonous air.

A Norfolk Police spokesman said: "Officers have been made aware of an individual who was seen walking around the Hellesdon area wearing a plague outfit.

"Although no offences have been committed at this time, officers are keen to trace the individual in order to provide words of advice about the implications of his actions on the local community.

"Should any further information come forward about any offences being committed, we will act accordingly."

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