New Zealanders have been cancelling and changing their flight plans as coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the world, according to Flight Centre NZ.

Yesterday, health officials announced the first case of Covid-19 in New Zealand has been confirmed and the person is in quarantine at Auckland Hospital.

The New Zealander flew on Emirates Flight EK450 from Iran, via Bali.

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According to a Flight Centre NZ spokesperson, as the virus continued to spread they had been helping passengers wanting to cancel or re-arrange their flight plans.

"We are working closely with concerned customers to rebook or rearrange travel plans where possible," they said.

"We've had instances where customers have chosen to re-direct their travels to Australia or the Pacific Islands or other low-risk areas."

The spokesperson also advised what travel insurance they offered customers who may be hesitant about travelling.

"Flight Centre offers 'Cancel For Any Reason' cover via Cover-More which allows customers to cancel for any reason and receive up to 75 per cent of the costs incurred back - this is a fantastic option for those booking travel in the coming months.

"Cover-More travel insurance will cover for medical if the virus is contracted in any destination, not on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's 'do not travel' list [currently China and Iran].

"Outside of Cancel For Any Reason cover, insurers will likely not cover cancellations even if the destination is listed by SafeTravel as a no-go. However, most suppliers will offer refunds, as was the case with most China flights."

"We recommend that travellers speak to a travel expert and double-check policy exclusions no matter the provider."


Flight Centre NZ managing director David Coombes said they had faced a tough few months for travel amid the Australian bush fires and recent coronavirus outbreak.

"Of course, these occurrences have had an impact on tourism and at this early stage of the virus outbreak, we can't fully forecast what the impact will be in the coming months," he said.

"In the face of an undeniable impact to sales, we're pleased to report high levels of attendance at our recent Travel Expos and strong sales to unaffected destinations, including parts of Asia.

Screening stations have been set up at Auckland Airport to combat fears surrounding the Coronavirus. Photo / Pool photo
Screening stations have been set up at Auckland Airport to combat fears surrounding the Coronavirus. Photo / Pool photo

"We have also seen Kiwis continue to back Australia as a top destination with steadily increased travel to Australia overall, despite the devastating fires beginning late last year".

Last night, the Government announced new measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, including new travel restrictions from Iran.

The Government would also be bolstering the health presence at international airports and there would be no exemptions for overseas students from China to enter New Zealand, Health Minister David Clark said.

Speaking to reporters yesterday afternoon, Clark said the Government was "stepping up" its response to preventing coronavirus from entering the country.

A pandemic plan was in place, he confirmed.

"The Government's priority continues to be the health and safety of New Zealanders."

Clark said, based on the medical and scientific advice the Government had received, ministers had put in place further temporary travel restrictions covering incoming travellers from Iran.

"This means people will not be able to travel from Iran to New Zealand and anyone who has been in Iran in the last 14 days will need to self-isolate.

"This is a sensible precaution. Many airlines have already cancelled flights from Iran."

This morning, The World Health Organisation (WHO) raised its threat level for the deadly coronavirus to "very high", warning all affected countries should now activate their "highest level" of response.

New Zealand citizens and permanent residents would still be allowed to return home, Clark said, but they would be told to self-isolate for 14 days.

The restrictions come into force immediately and will initially apply until midnight, March 3. After that, they will be reassessed every 48 hours – the same process the Government has used with the China travel ban.