A $3 million dollar fund has been established to combat COVID-19, even though there are no confirmed cases in New Zealand.
Ministry of Health director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced the research fund which would guide planning and preparation for the outbreak. It would also be used for planning and response for possible future events.
Health and Research Council chief executive Professor Sunny Collings attended the World Health Organisation forum in Geneva.
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"There was a lot of discussion, not just about the basic biology of the virus itself ... but also about the social impact of events like this both within and between different countries, and the need to understand how this continues to evolve."
She said the fund will go towards research, vaccine development and different models for health-service responses that are appropriate for New Zealand's diverse culture.
"How do we ensure our health system response doesn't magnify health inequalities? We're also mindful of our role in supporting our Pacific neighbours."
Dr Bloomfield said there were still no confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, but they would remain vigilant.
"This continues to be a rapidly evolving situation, we are watching and adjusting our response accordingly."
One hundred people have been tested in New Zealand so far, the eligibility for testing is determined by a combination of a person's travel history and their medical symptoms.
Dr Bloomfield said they were seeking independent advice from their technical advisory group and monitoring hospital capacity levels if the status were to change.
"We are not in a pandemic status at the moment. If a pandemic was to be announced, we are having discussions where we are prepared for that."
He said the Ministry of health is prepared to establish "Community Assessment Centres" so people could bypass a general medical practice for assessment and not put others at risk.
The current travel restrictions for people travelling to or through China expire at midnight tonight. The Prime Minister will announce if this will be extended at her press conference this afternoon.