'No apologies' over response to virus threat: PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Getty Images
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Getty Images

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she will make "no apologies" for rolling out "everything we can", when it comes to responding to the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

She is also seeking advice on whether the Government would evacuate New Zealanders in or around the Wuhan region in China – ground zero for the disease.

Health officials this morning have begun screening inbound passengers from China for symptoms of coronavirus.

Authorities have ramped up measures to combat the fast-spreading flu-like virus, which has so far killed at least 56 people in China and infected thousands more.

Public health workers will meet flights from China and assess passengers for anyone feeling unwell or with a temperature higher than 38 degrees.

Five flights from China are due in Auckland over the course of the day, and one in Christchurch.

But none are from the Wuhan region.

Five-hundred and sixty-four passengers arriving at Auckland Airport on two flights from mainland China this morning were met by public health staff assisting with information relating to the coronavirus outbreak.

No passengers were identified as displaying symptoms of the virus.

There were no delays for passengers from any flights moving through arrivals processing.

Asked if there were any plans to evacuate New Zealanders living in or around the Wuhan area in China, Ardern told Radio New Zealand that wasn't something Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) had "formally contacted" her on.

Evacuations of Australians in the region is under consideration by the Australian Government.

Ardern said: "When we have seen that our partners have been considering moves like this, then often we usually are at the same time."

"But that's something I'll talk to MFAT about."

She said it was unclear at the stage how many New Zealanders were living in the region – she is seeking advice in this.

Speaking to RNZ this morning, Ardern said although there have not yet been any confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Zealand, "we are really rolling out everything we can – including work at the border".

"We make no apologies for [that]," she said.

Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the China Tourism Association will announce that it will stop taking bookings for outbound tour groups to Australia and New Zealand.

Ardern said she had seen these reports but had not received anything official as of yet.

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