Junlan Li was running errands in downtown Toronto Sunday when she says a passerby bumped into her and jabbed a needle in her back.
The incident, described in a now-viral Reddit post uploaded by Li, happened in the area of Yonge and College streets just after 3:15 p.m.
“I was just going to the grocery store, thinking about all the things I needed to buy, and then someone bumped me from behind, in a specific spot in my back, and I thought, ‘That was kind of weird,’” Li told CTV News Toronto Monday.
Li says she was unable to catch a glimpse of the person, but said she brushed it off since “it’s a busy intersection.”
Then, Li says a witness stopped her and told her they saw something more concerning and that the person who bumped into her had actually “poked” her on purpose.
“He asked me to check and see if I lost anything, if the [person] tried to pickpocket me or anything,” Li said.
After not immediately seeing anything of concern, Li thanked the Good Samaritan for stopping her, and went on her “merry way.”
But halfway down the next block, she says her back started to feel like it was burning.
“I reached up and touched my back, roughly where I was hit, [and] there was just a tiny puncture mark,” Li said.
At that moment, Li says she turned around, searched the nearest emergency department in the area, and walked straight there.
She says spent five hours at the hospital and that doctors treated the wound as a suspected needlestick.
She also says she has an appointment scheduled with an infectious disease specialist Tuesday.
On Reddit, she said the doctors ordered blood tests, and told her she has 72 hours to get post-exposure prophylaxis, or “PEP,” if an infectious disease clinic believes she needs it.
PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is a type of medicine to prevent HIV, and treatment has to be started within 72 hours after a possible and recent exposure.
Li first called Toronto police’s non-emergency line while she was waiting at the hospital, and said it took about two hours to make a statement.
When reached for comment, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed with CTV News Toronto it is currently reviewing surveillance footage to find the suspect.
A spokesperson for the TPS could not provide any updates to CTV News Toronto, citing the ongoing investigation.
“This is not a common incident,” Const. Cindy Chung said. “If this does happen to someone, I would recommend that they report the incident to police and follow up with the hospital and complete any testing recommended to ensure their health and safety.”
Meanwhile, Li says she still feels a bit sore following the incident, and is grateful to the Good Samaritan who stopped her on the street.
“I usually have a bit of back pain, so I had not really clued into it.”
Without him, she says, “I might not have realized that there was something wrong.”