Coronavirus: Ashley Bloomfield condemns 'completely unacceptable' abuse of healthcare workers at testing stations

Dr Ashley Bloomfield has strongly condemned acts of verbal and physical abuse of healthcare workers at COVID-19 testing stations.

Aucklanders have flocked to get tested for the virus after new cases of community transmission were confirmed earlier this week.

Auckland is currently in level 3 lockdown and the rest of the country at level 2, with the Government set to announce whether the lockdown will be extended later this afternoon.

Speaking to media on Friday the Director-General of Health confirmed there were 12 new cases of COVID-19 in the community and one probable case.

In announcing the latest numbers, Dr Bloomfield stressed the importance of treating those with the virus and healthcare workers testing for it with respect.

"We've had reports of healthcare workers who are doing their best to particularly provide testing for people being verbally abused and even attacked," he said. 

"This is completely unacceptable - I'm sure you will agree - and please remember that all health workers are doing their best to help not just you but all New Zealanders. 

"I know how hard they are working, both in Auckland and around the country and I want to take a moment to sincerely thank them all."

He said it was "inexplicable" that people would take their frustration out on healthcare workers. 

Dr Bloomfield also urged Kiwis to be kind to people who tested positive for the virus.

"We need to remember that the cause of this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the response in New Zealand and globally is this new virus. There is no blame and stigma attached in anyone anyone having COVID-19 and we should be treating each other as we would want to be treated, with dignity and respect."

The Ministry of Health said at this stage it would not be releasing any further details about the alleged acts of abuse, and a police spokesperson told Newshub they were not aware of any incidents being reported to them in Auckland.

Newshub reporter Lucy Warhurst spoke to staff at Auckland's new testing station at Eden Park who said people waiting there had been patient and respectful towards workers.

Thirty cases of community transmission have been confirmed since Tuesday. Twenty-eight are in Auckland, while two are in Tokoroa and are linked to the Auckland cluster.