Police are trying to find a person who dresses as a 17th-century plague doctor on their walks during the coronavirus outbreak.

Residents in a Norwich suburb have spotted someone strolling around in a long black cloak, hat and pointed beak-like mask over the past few weeks.

They posted on a community Facebook page claiming the outfit could scare children, according to a BBC report.

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Jade Gosbell, who took a photo of the person walking across a recreation ground in Hellesdon, said she saw them wearing a “full black suit” on a sunny, 20C day.

She said she was worried her mother – who has a phobia of masks – would bump into them.

“Kids would be frightened, my mum would be frightened”, Ms Gosbell was quoted as saying, adding that some people thought the walker is just “having a laugh” during lockdown.

The furloughed gym worker said she had not seen the person since a Facebook post drew attention to them, adding: “I was told that if I see him again to call the police.”

Photos of people dressed in similar garb, for example, while shopping, have circulated widely online during the pandemic.

Norfolk Police said it wanted to speak to the individual to give “words of advice” about how wearing the costume on walks could affect others in the local area.

“Scared the life out of my missus. Terrifying for kids,” another person wrote on the community social media page, according to the BBC.

In 17th century Europe, doctors who treated plague victims wore the a black gown and beaked mask, which people thought could purify poisonous air.

“Officers have been made aware of an individual who was seen walking around the Hellesdon area wearing a plague outfit,” a Norfolk Police spokesman said.

“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.”

Some social media users have questioned whether the police should get involved. ”Are they doing anything wrong, or just going about their business in a plague costume?” one Twitter user asked.

Police have faced criticism during the coronavirus lockdown after some forced wrongly handed fines to children and incorrectly applied new laws. MPs have warned officers should not overreach, lest they risk losing public trust.

Speaking about the walker in Hellesdon, Norfolk Police said: “Should any further information come forward about any offences being committed, we will act accordingly.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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