Move over, Brett Sutton, there’s another popular doctor in town.
Victoria’s chief health officer has his very own (only slightly stalky) group of extremely loyal fans who have followed his every word during the state’s deadly coronavirus outbreak.
But he’s yet to reach the giddy heights of New Zealand’s top doctor and self-styled COVID-19 “eliminator”, Ashley Bloomfield.
Across the Tasman, a cashed-up Kiwi has forked out $NZ13,500 ($A12,400) for lunch with “Dr B”, who has gained the twin statuses of celebrity and saint in New Zealand after his efforts to fight the virus.
The lunch is a charity endeavour to aid the Cancer Society. In a move likely to endear him further to an already adoring public, Dr Bloomfield – New Zealand’s director-general of health – has offered his time for the fundraiser.
The lucky winner, who is yet to out themselves, will enjoy lunch with Dr Bloomfield and six friends at parliamentary bistro Bellamy’s after parting ways with the bumper cheque.
Like Professor Sutton, and their equivalents in other Australian states, Dr Bloomfield was once a relatively anonymous public health official. All have been thrust into the public eye during the pandemic.
Dr Bloomfield’s fame grew as he appeared alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern through the depths of the country’s COVID lockdown, with Kiwis delighting in his no-nonsense, health-first manner.
New Zealanders have fashioned mugs and tea towels in Dr Bloomfield’s honour, writing only slightly tongue-in-cheek songs and creating artworks.(sure, Professor Sutton has some of that too … mask, anyone?)
Previously, a sketch of Ms Ardern and Dr Bloomfield dressed as Wonder Woman and Superman sold for $NZ2540 ($A2320) on the same auction site, TradeMe, that hosted the charity lunch.
Several similar images of varying quality can also still be bought.
Dr Bloomfield also played in a charity rugby match under the moniker “the eliminator”, where he scored a try.
On Friday, Dr Bloomfield enjoyed a day away from announcing New Zealand’s daily case update, allowing public health director Caroline McElnay the stage.
Dr McElnay announced 12 new cases, five community cases linked to the Auckland cluster and seven within NZ’s mandatory isolation regime.
The seven cases all arrived on one Air India flight.
The NZ government said the new cases would not stop it shifting Auckland out of lockdown on Sunday night.