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At a time when people are doing everything to minimise contact with each other, news of a woman in the US being arrested for licking groceries has emerged.

The incident occurred in the state of California, US. The woman, identified as Jennifer Walker, reportedly licked $1,800 (Dh 6,611) worth of groceries and other items at a supermarket in the northern part of the state, police said on Wednesday.

Chris Fiore, spokesman for the South Lake Tahoe police department, told Agence France-Presse (AFP), news agency that officers were called to the Safeway store on Tuesday following reports of "a customer licking groceries" amidst the highly contagious coronavirus outbreak.

"When officers arrived on the scene, a Safeway employee informed them that the suspect put numerous pieces of jewelry from the store on her hands," Fiore was quoted as saying.

"The suspect licked the jewelry then began to load her cart with merchandise from the store,” he added.

Fiore said that officers found Walker inside the store with a shopping trolley full of items, including meat and alcohol, which she had no means of purchasing, according to a report by The Economic Times

The 53-year-old was arrested for vandalism and the merchandise had to be destroyed due to the fear of contamination.

‘But why…?’ question social media users

This is not the first incident of people licking items at a store during the recent coronavirus outbreak.

In March, Cody Pfister from Missouri, US posted a short clip of himself taking off a face mask and running his tongue along products on a store’s shelf while looking at the camera.

He was was charged with making a terrorist threat.

User @sami_groeger tweeted about the incidents and wrote: “I have lost all faith in humanity. We will not recover from this pandemic. There are fellow people out here purposely spitting on our groceries. Licking ice cream, door handles, and other food products. Why? Why are y'all so selfish? Absolutely ridiculous.”

Tweep @PurpleEggsNHam shared her experience visiting a store in  the US: “I braved the grocery store last night. Some people in masks, obeying the one person per household rule, trying to distance. Others in huge groups or with multiple children running around. Teens licking their fingers and wiping it on items laughing. Employees with no protection.”

Twitter user @andymart22 commented on Walker’s case: “That’s a lot of grocery licking for it to total $1800.”

Tweep @JenkinsDota emphasised on the importance of social distancing: “Social distancing in grocery stores going really well up here in Canada until somebody drops a grocery. Then you have 10 people within licking distance of the guy trying to help pick stuff up Canadian politeness will be the death of us actually.”