Outpouring of grief over death of Shortland Street character Sarah Potts

Distraught fans of the nation's longest running soap have expressed their grief at the death of Sarah Potts, one of Shortland Street's most beloved doctors who died in last night's episode.

Sarah was trying to find a cure for a deadly virus, but got infected. She discovered the cure too late to save herself.

On a tribute page created for the character, hundreds of fans voice their shock and sadness at her death.

"Sarah, you didn't deserve to go that way. RIP. Many thoughts to the rest of your family. From Larissa."

"Wow that was sad, Shortland Street has lost another amazing talented actor who will be missed," said another.

Sarah Potts died on last night's episode after succumbing to a deadly virus which had swept through the hospital.

After contracting the disease from a contaminated syringe, Sarah isolated herself in a lab and desperately tried to find a cure. When she finally found the cure, it was too late to save herself but managed to spare all those infected.

Twitter has been swamped with tributes since the moment aired on TV2 propelling the hashtag #RIPSarahPotts into New Zealand's top trending spot.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! It's just a bad dream surely? #ripsarahpotts @ShortlandTweet

— Nadine (@nadgiebrown) August 18, 2014

Her candle burned out long before her legend ever will, aye. #RIPSarahPotts @ShortlandTweet

— Ngaire Chambers (@NgaireChambers) August 18, 2014

Though i didn't 'like' her much, I was shocked when I learnt that Sarah died. Feel for tk. Both of his wives have died #RIPSarahPotts

— Reshma Patel (@lovereshmaxo) August 18, 2014

Actor Amanda Billing has been nominated and won numerous awards for her portrayal of the character who made her first appearance in September 2004.

Billing's acting skills were put to the test in 2008 when her character was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis, a storyline which drew huge acclaim from sufferers and health advocates.

In 2006 Throng Shortland Street Fan Awards Sarah was voted by fans as both 'favourite female character' and 'character you'd most like to kill off'.

If you missed it, you can view the full episode here.