Texas teen facing terror charges after threatening to spread coronavirus

Police are searching for a Texas teen who allegedly posted on social media that she had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and is “willfully spreading it.”

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Officials in Carrollton, a city northwest of Dallas, are seeking help from the public to find the 18-year-old identified as Lorraine Maradiaga.

They’ve said she’ll be charged with terroristic threat once she’s found and taken into custody, Dallas-Fort Worth’s Fox 4 reports.

They currently have no confirmation that she even has COVID-19 and is intentionally spreading it, but are “taking her social media actions very seriously.”

Photos of the suspect shared in the police department’s tweet are, per Storyful, screenshots from a Snapchat account under the name Lorraine Boutit.

According to CBS, the suspect was in a local Walmart at the time the Snapchat video was shared.

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A Facebook profile under the same name exists, along with the name “lorraine.maradiaga” at the end of the URL.

According to the Texas penal code, a terroristic threat refers to a person who commits or threatens to commit an offence involving violence to any person to cause a reaction, place a person in fear of imminent bodily injury, influence the conduct or activities of the federal government, and more.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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