Restrictions on travel from China which were introduced to prevent the spread of coronavirus have been extended for eight days.
The restrictions - which prevent foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through, mainland China from entering New Zealand - will be reviewed every 48 hours, Health Minister David Clark said this afternoon. New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family returning to New Zealand will continue to be able to enter, but are being told to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.
"New Zealand has not yet had a confirmed case of COVID-19 but this continues to be an evolving situation," Clark said.
"The health advice remains consistent – we must take a precautionary approach, and that is why the travel restrictions will continue in the short term.
"At every step our response to the coronavirus has been based on the best available science and health advice.
"Our border response is in line with Australia, the US and a range of other countries. It is a responsible approach to assist international efforts to contain this disease, and to protect New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
"Imposing travel restrictions is not a decision that was taken lightly, but in the end this is a matter of public health," Clark said.
The Ministry of Health said yesterday that the number of passengers arriving directly in New Zealand from mainland China had fallen from around 2000 a day to 500 a day.
Just over 3000 people who left China after February 2 have registered with Healthline and are in self-isolation in New Zealand.
As of yesterday, there were 47,000 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and 1369 deaths - just two outside of mainland China.
There have been no confirmed cases in New Zealand.
• Healthline's dedicated COVID-19 number, 0800 358 5453, is free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.