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Paramedics risking their lives in the fight against coronavirus arrived at work to find vandals had drilled holes in the tyres of six ambulances.

The incident, which happened overnight in Kent, forced the vehicles off the road with repair teams racing against the clock to get them back up and running,

The South East Coast (SEC) Ambulance service said the crime would be difficult to comprehend under normal circumstances, let alone when health workers face unprecedented pressure amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

One paramedic posted on Facebook: ‘Just when you thought this country couldn’t get any worse, someone comes along and drills holes in our ambulance tyres. So we’re now all off the road.’

One person has died of coronavirus in Kent, while two hospitals have seen a surge in cases.

Janine Compton, a spokeswoman for the South East Coast Ambulance Service, said most people have been ‘fantastically supportive’ of its staff, but condemned those who targeted the vehicles.

She said: ‘We can confirm that six of our frontline ambulances were deliberately damaged overnight at our Make Ready Centre in Thanet.

‘Our fleet staff have worked tremendously hard this morning to ensure that the impact on our patients was minimal. However, it was additional work at a time we are already under significant pressure.’

‘It is extremely disappointing that an individual would target the ambulance service in this way, at a time when the vast majority of the public have been fantastically supportive of our staff during these difficult times.’

Kent Police say they are investigating reports of the damage.