An Australian nurse and a supermarket worker trying to enforce social distancing have been brutally attacked and deliberately coughed on in separate incidents, police say.

They are the latest alleged victims of a wave of coronavirus-related violence which has seen staff at pharmacies, supermarkets and grocery stores abused and manhandled by panic buyers.

Police have released CCTV footage of a man said to have deliberately coughed on a female supermarket employee at Raymond Terrace in the New South Wales Hunter region.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

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The 35-year-old worker was trying to get customers to stick to social distancing rules when she was approached by a couple. At some point an argument broke out between the man and the supermarket staffer and he deliberately coughed on her.

Individuals can now be fined up to A$1000 or even jailed if they break new laws introduced to enforce social distancing and other measures designed to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

"This kind of dangerous behaviour needs to stop immediately. It's potentially putting the lives of workers and their families at risk," Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said in a statement.

"This isn't a time to practice poor hygiene habits.

"For a disgusting act like this, you could find yourself charged with common assault and jailed for up to two years."

Police have released CCTV footage of a man said to have deliberately coughed on a female supermarket employee. Photo / news.com.au
Police have released CCTV footage of a man said to have deliberately coughed on a female supermarket employee. Photo / news.com.au

Investigators from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District this afternoon released images of the man in the hope someone will recognise him and come forward.

The man is described as being of Caucasian appearance, between 170cm-180cm tall, with a shaved head, and goatee-style facial hair. He was wearing cream shorts and black jandals.

In a separate incident, police said a 25-year-old nurse was ordering takeaway at a fish and chip shop on the Great Western Highway at Blackheath last Tuesday when an elderly woman walked in about 4.30pm.

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Police have been told the woman, thought to be aged in her 70s, began deliberately coughing in the direction of the nurse, who had just finished her shift at an aged care home.

When the nurse tried to leave the shop she was again confronted by the woman, who verbally abused her before punching her twice in the face, police said.

The nurse managed to get out of the store and report the attack to police.

The Blue Mountains Police Area Command is appealing for anyone with CCTV, mobile phone or dashcam footage that might help identity the ageing assailant to come forward.

The woman is described as being of Caucasian appearance, aged in her 70s, about 150cm tall with white shoulder-length hair. She was wearing beige overalls with yellow stripes, a white shirt and a silver necklace and pendant.

Businesses flouting social distancing laws or closure orders face fines of A$5000.