A Queenstown Hotel has been forced to publicly deny that one of its guests was infected with the deadly coronavirus.
The five-star hotel on the shores of Lake Wakatipu moved to shut down rumours about an outbreak in a post on its Facebook page last night.
"We have received rumours that there has been an outbreak of coronavirus at The Rees Hotel, Queenstown.
"Please note that these rumours are unfounded and untrue as there has been no outbreak of the virus in New Zealand."
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said there were no cases of coronavirus in the Southern District Health Board area, and that the DHB were not actively investigating any suspected cases.
There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Zealand, though the ministry said yesterday that the likelihood of it reaching these shores is "high".
Three people on a tour group to Rotorua are being assessed at Rotorua Hospital because of concerns that they may have become infected with the virus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China.
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Since the outbreak, there have been reports of anti-visitor sentiment in Queenstown.
Mayor Jim Boult urged New Zealanders not to "descend into racism and xenophobia" over the crisis.
"It is understandable to have concerns about this unfolding health issue but it will never be acceptable to descend to racism and xenophobia," he said in a statement.
"We must all unite to demonstrate zero tolerance in regard to any such behaviour and to stand up and call it out. In this country, such behaviour is a criminal offence."
Boult said the outbreak had come at the worst possible time for tourism operators - in the middle of summer and the Chinese New Year.
Chinese tourists accounted for more than $220 million of spending in the Queenstown Lakes District in the year to October.
At this stage, health officials are asking those coming into the country from China to self-identify and come forward if they are experiencing any symptoms.
Officials yesterday met 1262 passengers arriving at Auckland International Airport from China aboard seven flights. None of them had symptoms of the virus.
Another eight flights from mainland China will arrive in Auckland today.
Almost 60 people have died overseas so far after contracting the virus, with the World Health Organisation reporting 2000 confirmed cases of the virus; 98 per cent in China.
- additional reporting Otago Daily Times