National is calling for the Government to follow the lead of Japan and the US and evacuate all New Zealand citizens from Wuhan in China – ground zero for the recent outbreak of coronavirus.
But Foreign Minister Winston Peters says the issue is far more complicated than people have been led to believe.
Nevertheless, he said the Government was doing everything it could to assist New Zealanders in the Wuhan region and was "considering all options".
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The Herald can also confirm that the Chinese embassy in Beijing is closed for Chinese New Year.
This comes as Aaron Mahon, a Kiwi who says he is trapped in Wuhan with his wife and 5-year old daughter, fears for the safety of his family.
"The feeling is that we're going to die in China. We need to get out of here," he told the Herald.
He estimated the family had only a few days' worth of food left, with all they have going to their daughter, Taylor.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday said she was seeking advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) regarding the evacuation of New Zealanders, such as Aaron and Taylor, from Wuhan.
But National Leader Simon Bridges said Ardern and the Government need to stop sitting on their hands and act now to bring New Zealanders home.
"A responsible government would be looking after its people. Countries around the world are evacuating their citizens and putting them in quarantine for 14 days," he said this morning.
"We have a desperate family telling the media they fear they'll die of the virus or die of starvation. The Government needs to act to protect them."
So far, close to 80 people have died, with a further 3000 inflected with coronavirus.
The governments of Japan and the US have begun evacuating their citizens from the region.
France has confirmed their citizens will be evacuated by midweek, while Russia, Spain, Sri Lanka and Thailand are asking China to allow their nationals to leave.
Several other countries, including Australia and the UK, are also considering evacuation options.
Meanwhile, New Zealand's embassy in the Chinese capital of Beijing is closed for Chinese New Year.
An automated message on the embassy's phone line says the office will re-open tomorrow morning at 8.30am – in 28 hours' time.
Bridges said that is not good enough.
"The New Zealand Embassy in Beijing and the Consulate-General in Shanghai and Guangzhou have been closed for Chinese New Year.
He said the Government should have told its officials to come back from holiday to deal with New Zealanders in China who need help.
MFAT has been contacted for comment.
In a statement, Peters said the Chinese Government has put in place a total embargo on all travel in areas deemed to be high risk.
The Government was still considering its options, he said.
"If transportation of individuals poses no risk to New Zealand we will consider that as well,' he said.
"This is a far more complex issue than people are led to believe, and we are forced to work within the confines of such complexities alongside all other countries."