Auckland taxi drivers refusing to pick up Chinese tourists for fear of coronavirus

Some taxi drivers are refusing to pick up Chinese passengers amid fears of coronavirus. 

Drivers in Auckland are refusing to work at the international airport, so they can try and avoid tourists from China, where the virus is running rampant. 

The death toll from the virus in China has risen to 170 with more than 7000 confirmed cases.

It has spread to more than a dozen different countries, although it has not reached New Zealand.

One driver working at the domestic terminal told Newshub the law doesn't allow him to refuse the fare, but he would like to refuse because he "cares about his family".

But it's not everyone , another driver who was working at the international terminal said he will pick up anyone who needs his services. 

"They're all customers they're all welcome and this is New Zealand we are not racist to anyone," he said.

It's not just taxi drivers who are letting their fears get out of control.

After four tourists were tested for the virus at Rotorua Hospital, local councillor Fisher Wang has been verbally attacked at supermarkets and regularly messaged online.

"Racist and xenophobic remarks, asking us why we're not sending them all back to where they came from," he told Newhsub. 

"[Things like] why are we still letting them into the country? This fear that's come out through the virus has aided racism."    

The Race Relations Commissioner's encouraging Kiwis to take a stand.

"Anybody who abuses people with racist comments should be called out, and they should be reported as well," Meng Foon told Newshub. 

He says we should keep our fears focussed on the virus, and not on each other.