BUS service chiefs have said they will not tolerate abuse towards their staff after a woman assaulted a bus driver in Poole before telling him “I hope you catch the coronavirus” in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown.

The incident took place moments before the woman left the bus and followed an earlier raft of verbal abuse towards the driver of the Morebus service.

Richard Wade, Morebus operations manager, said: “As key workers, our drivers have been working very hard to transport those who need to make essential bus journeys. We are doing everything possible to keep everyone safe throughout the coronavirus crisis - installing screens for our drivers and allowing people to practice social distancing on-board larger vehicles than usual on busy journeys.

“Throughout this challenging time, our passengers and my colleagues have shown great resilience and spirit. The type of behaviour displayed by this particular individual is thankfully exceptionally rare and we will not tolerate it. We will work with police to identify this person, and will take appropriate action against them.”

As reported, Dorset Police said a man and a woman got on the bus in Longfleet Road and attempted to pay for two tickets with a quantity of change at around 11.10pm on Tuesday, April 28 – when residents were being told to stay at home except for medical reasons and essential food shops.

The bus driver asked if they could pay using a contactless card, which is the preferred payment method due to Covid-19.

The woman was then verbally abusive toward the bus driver but the man proceeded to pay by card and they sat down on the bus.

Around 10 minutes later, the woman reportedly went to the front of the bus and leant around the protective screen where the driver was sitting and demanded his name and number, before grabbing him by his clothing and stating: “I hope you catch the coronavirus”.

Officers investigating the assault issued a CCTV image of a woman they would like to speak to.

A 30-year-old local woman has now come forward and is assisting officers with their enquiries. No arrests have been made.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Dorset Police by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55200060424.