A police officer who is a carer for his ill mother has had to self-isolate after being spat at and coughed over by a man claiming to have coronavirus.
It happened on Wednesday evening, according to Northamptonshire Chief Constable Nick Adderley.
Anyone who purposefully coughs over key workers will face criminal charges, the Director of Public Prosecutions warned.
Mr Adderley said it was a "disgusting, demeaning and potentially life-threatening assault on our colleague".
A man has been charged with assaulting an emergency worker.
Posting about the incident on Twitter, Mr Adderley wrote: "So a reality check: one of my officers was spat at and coughed over last night by a male claiming to have Covid-19.
"The officer is a primary carer for his mother who has cancer. He will now need to self-isolate and will no longer be able to care for his mum."
Mr Adderley said that the force would "support his mum where we can" while the officer moved out of his home for 14 days.
"This shows the impact one idiot can have," he added.
He also said the police were working with the Crown Prosecution Service to "expedite such cases and to ensure that the maximum penalties and sanctions are imposed".
Assistant Chief Constable of Essex Police Paul Wells has warned that people are using coronavirus .