Coronavirus: Hellesdon walker's plague doctor outfit 'terrifying kids'

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image copyrightJade Gosbell
image captionThe sight of the individual out walking in a plague doctor outfit has provoked mixed reactions

Police have said they are keen to trace a person who has been walking around a village dressed as a 17th Century plague doctor.

Residents of Hellesdon, near Norwich, have been both "terrified" and amused by the individual dressed in a black cloak, hat, and pointed beak-like mask.

Doctors treating those with the Black Death believed the mask acted as a filter against the disease.

Police said they would like to give the individual some "words of advice".

It is thought the person has been dressing this way for about two weeks for their daily walk, with a photograph posted on a village social media page attracting many different points of view.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionPlague doctors in the 17th Century believed the beak-like masks filled with perfume and herbs protected them

One person wrote: "Scared the life out of my missus. Terrifying for kids."

Another agreed: "Just casually... strolling around the village in a plague costume? That's just not normal is it, do it indoors it's bloody terrifying for poor little kids."

However, others came to the individual's defence, saying: "I admit he is weird but what harm is he doing... made me giggle."

Another pointed out: "It's not illegal and if he can't wear it now, when could he?"

Danny Buck, a historian at the University of East Anglia, who spotted the picture, said: "It's quite a smart-looking costume and it's important people realise that in the 17th Century plague doctors were the brave ones who went out to see people with the disease."

Norfolk Police said officers were aware of concerns raised about "an individual who was seen walking around the Hellesdon area wearing a plague outfit".

They said no offence had been committed, but officers were "keen to trace the individual in order to provide words of advice about the implications of his actions on the local community".

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