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Friday, 1 May 2020

‘Black Death doctor’ roams through British village, terrorizing children and their parents during coronavirus lockdown

This quack has some British people ducking for cover.
This quack has some British people ducking for cover.(JADE GOSBELL / Facebook)

There are ways to dress protectively during a pandemic, and there are ways that scream, “too soon.”
A mysterious black-swathed figure dressed in full 17th-century plague doctor garb falls into that category, according to residents of the otherwise idyllic English village he has been roaming through for the past two weeks.
“Scared the life out of my missus,” wrote one social media commentator. “Terrifying for kids.”
Another was flummoxed.
“Just casually... strolling around the village in a plague costume?” the person wrote, according to BBC News. “That’s just not normal is it? Do it indoors. It’s bloody terrifying for poor little kids.”
Though another observer said it “made me giggle,” enough complaints have rolled in that police are actively seeking this person to tell the person to tone it down.
The 17th-century plague doctors were those who visited homes trying to cure the Black Death, the bubonic plague, which over several centuries worth of outbreaks killed at least 50 million people, according to History Today.
A plague doctor in protective clothing circa 1656. The beak mask held spices thought to purify air, the wand was used to avoid touching patients.
A plague doctor in protective clothing circa 1656. The beak mask held spices thought to purify air, the wand was used to avoid touching patients. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
For about two weeks this walker has been sauntering through Hellesdon, near Norwich, complete with long black robes, cloak and the unmistakable pointed hood and beak (the origin of the term “quack,” incidentally, according to Wessex FM Radio in England.
The disease first arrived in Europe in the 1300s but would continue to plague the world for centuries, according to the History Channel.
In 17th-century Europe, doctors wore long robes steeped in beeswax and other substances, designed to protect the wearer from contamination. The getup included a notorious beaked hood that in plague times was stuffed with aromatic plants thought to purify “poisonous air,” as National Geographic described it.

Back then, of course, no one knew anything about microbes and pathogens, or transmission of diseases from animals to humans.

Even so, seeing someone dressed like that in modern times is both unnerving and simply … odd, observers said of the Hellesdon wanderer.

“It was like 20 degrees [68 Fahrenheit], he was wearing a full black suit, it just looked ridiculous,” resident Jade Gosbell, 21, told Wessex FM after snapping a photo of the strange sight striding across a local park. “It’s clearly for attention or something like that, because normal people just wouldn't do that.”

Norfolk Police are seeking the mysterious person “in order to provide words of advice about the implications of his actions on the local community,” a spokesperson told CTV News in Canada.

“Officers have been made aware of an individual who was seen walking around the Hellesdon area wearing a plague outfit,” police told The Telegraph. “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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