HALIFAX -- Two men in New Brunswick who recently travelled to the Dominican Republic are facing charges in a bizarre case involving allegations both suspects purposely coughed on neighbours in a rooming house.

Police said they responded to a call Thursday morning from a residence in Rothesay, where an individual had complained that two other people had allegedly failed to isolate themselves after returning home from abroad.

"When we did our investigation, it was revealed that both had coughed on the other individuals in the house," Wayne Gallant, chief of the Kennebecasis Regional Police Force, said Friday. "They've both been charged with (assault)."

The ugly incident came to light as health officials in the Atlantic region reported 51 additional cases of COVID-19.

In Kennebecasis, police Insp. Anika Becker said one of the accused in the Rothesay case doesn't live at the home in question, but his travelling companion does.

Becker said another occupant of the home -- a 41-year-old man -- had complained about the pair's failure to self isolate, as required by New Brunswick law. That's when the coughing started, Becker said.

Under the province's rules for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone who returns to New Brunswick after travelling abroad must self-isolate for 14 days.

The province declared a state of emergency March 19 after Premier Blaine Higgs said too few citizens were following orders to avoid public gatherings.

"If anyone has concerns that someone is not self-isolating properly, they should not take matters in their own hands," Kennebecasis police said in a statement, adding that the province has established a toll-free phone line for people to report non-compliance.

The provincial government's non-compliance branch was notifed.

According to new rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone who has travelled outside New Brunswick is required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Police say, if anyone has concerns that someone is not self-isolating properly, they should call the COVID-19 non-compliance line at 1-844-462-8387 before 4:30 p.m., and email after hours at helpaide@gnb.ca.

"During these difficult times, we ask everyone to respect the health and safety of all individuals, including first responders and health care professionals by refraining from irresponsible and needless behaviours such as this," the Kennebecasis Regional Police Force said in a news release.

With files from The Canadian Press.


The phone number of the COVID-19 non-compliance line has been corrected.