Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern calls man who coughed, sneezed on supermarket shoppers 'an idiot'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has "charitably" described a Christchurch man as "an idiot" after the 38-year-old was arrested for deliberately coughing and sneezing at supermarket shoppers.

The 38-year-old was arrested after sharing a since-deleted Facebook video in which he coughed and sneezed on shoppers at Fresh Choice supermarket in Barrington. 

The man was arrested in Christchurch on Saturday evening, a police spokesperson confirmed. 

"The man has been charged with endangering life by criminal nuisance and obstruction of a medical officer of health," the spokesperson told Newshub on Sunday. 

The 38-year-old is due to appear at Christchurch District Court on Monday.

A spokeswoman for the supermarket told Stuff the man has apologised and claimed the video was a "drunken prank". 

"Fresh Choice Barrington has put a number of extra steps in place over and above the norm to ensure the store is clean and safe for people to shop and work in," she told the outlet.

"We would strongly discourage any customers from doing anything like this in any supermarket. The police have been very clear that it's irresponsible and unacceptable behaviour."

During Sunday's update on New Zealand's COVID-19 outbreak and response, Ardern noted that "idiots" are tarnishing the country's otherwise "strong" compliance with lockdown protocol.

"While compliance has been generally strong, there are still some I would charitably describe as idiots," she told reporters.

"A 38-year-old man, arrested last night after being seen on a video online coughing at people in a supermarket, I include in that description."

Despite being seen wearing a Graham Hill Roofing jacket in the deleted video, the company claimed on their Facebook page that the 38-year-old has never worked directly for them.