Schools in Auckland are telling students who've visited countries with confirmed coronavirus cases to miss the start of term.

And one private school says it has created a "task force" team to monitor the "developing situation".

In an email to parents, St Cuthbert's College principal Justine Mahon asked staff, students or families who travelled to affected countries to stay home for a week after arriving back in the country.

St Cuthbert's College. Photo / File
St Cuthbert's College. Photo / File

Countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus are China, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, the United States, France, Australia, Malaysia, Nepal and Canada.

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A St Cuthbert's spokesperson said the instruction to miss the start of term didn't have any connection to a public petition calling for all students who visited China in the past seven days to stay home for a week.

More than 1300 people have signed that petition.

The spokeswoman said the petition was created before the school asked students who'd been to affected countries to stay home but in Mahon's email, she specifically addressed students who'd been to China.

"We know that a number of families have remained offshore for Chinese New Year celebrations and are planning to fly back over the next week - your daughter will need to remain absent from school until she has been back in New Zealand (and without any flu-like symptoms) for seven days.

"If you are one of the affected families, please notify the school of your daughter's absence from school in the usual way, and advise the country travelled from, and date of arrival back in New Zealand," the email said.

The spokesperson said the school created a "task force" when there was a confirmed case of the deadly respiratory virus in Australia on Friday.

The response team includes staff from senior leadership, medical, health and safety and its communications team.

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People wear masks following the outbreak of a new virus as people arrive from the International terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto. Photo / AP
People wear masks following the outbreak of a new virus as people arrive from the International terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto. Photo / AP

St Cuthbert's is also taking additional precautions by:

• creating isolation centres,

• briefing medical staff for what to do if someone becomes ill,

• buying hand sanitisers and talking to its students about washing their hands and "maintaining good hygiene",

• asking any students who become unwell with flu-like symptoms to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Willowbank School has also asked students who may have come into contact with the virus to stay home for a week.

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Meanwhile, Elim Christian College says it will ask international students from China to remain home for two weeks.

Macleans College has asked students from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak, to stay away from school for one week.

Health officials said on Monday that while it was "very likely" someone from New Zealand would get the coronavirus, it was unlikely anyone would die because of it as the fatality rate is about 2 or 3 per cent.