About 200 staff in Bay of Plenty Regional Council offices are working from home today to test how the organisation would respond if COVID-19 (coronavirus) hit the region.
General manager of corporate Mat Taylor said the team was running an internal exercise to "test a scenario" where the majority of the office-based staff would work from home or offsite.
He said the current situation with COVID-19 had influenced their decision to hold the test now rather than later in the year.
Taylor said it was an opportunity for them to test their Business Continuity Plans and ensure systems could cope if a situation arose where staff were unable to come into the office.
He said the exercise was a good way to see how an office closure or self-isolation as a result of the disease would be implemented, similar to other places worldwide.
"While we often have staff work remotely, this will be the first time we're actively asking staff to do this at the same time, and we think it's a sensible proactive step to take."
He said about 200 staff from offices in Whakatāne, Tauranga and Rotorua will take part in the test, however, all offices will remain open for the public as usual.
The exercise comes the day the second case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) was confirmed in New Zealand.
A Kiwi woman returned to Auckland from holiday in northern Italy via Singapore on February 25 and was now in self-isolation.
She was a New Zealand citizen.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the Ministry of Health was expecting sporadic cases of COVID-19 to appear across New Zealand.
Officials were strengthening the response at New Zealand's borders, with an increased presence of health staff at airports.
The Government yesterday extended the travel ban on foreigners arriving from China and Iran by another week, until March 10, while those arriving from northern Italy or South Korea are asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza. Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19.
We don't yet know how long symptoms take to show after a person has been infected, but current World Health Organization assessments suggest that it is 2–10 days.
If you have these symptoms and have recently been to a country or area of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please telephone Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor immediately.
Source: Ministry of Health