The Government is now warning New Zealanders to avoid all non-essential travel to China as the spread of the deadly coronavirus continues.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has this week been telling people to not travel to Hubei Province, the centre of the outbreak that has killed 106 people and infected more than 4500.

On Wednesday, Mfat extended its warning to include avoiding all non-essential travel to the whole of China.

It follows similar warnings from the British and Australian Governments to their citizens.

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Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has issued a warning telling Australians to reconsider travel plans they had to China, while Britain's Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, warned against "all but essential" trips.

It comes after the death toll figures from the coronavirus skyrocketed by 25 on Tuesday and the number of reported confirmed cases nearly doubled.

Authorities warned the spread of the virus was accelerating and travel restrictions have been put in place across at least 20 cities in the country, while Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak, remains on strict lock-down.

New Zealand officials say they're mulling whether to employ charter flights or get the assistance from the Defence Force to extract New Zealanders trapped in Wuhan.

Kiwi citizens have been pleading to get out after being caught in the lock-down while visiting during the Chinese New Year. There are 34 Kiwis registered as being in the region.

Non-essential travel to China should be avoided, Mfat says. Photo / Bloomberg
Non-essential travel to China should be avoided, Mfat says. Photo / Bloomberg

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned any plan to remove New Zealanders would be complex and difficult because of logistical issues, including tight travel restrictions imposed by the Chinese Government, pre-departure screening requirements and complying with any quarantine measures.

But National Party health spokesman Michael Woodhouse said the Government was acting too slowly.

"While other major nations are either actively evacuating citizens or making serious plans to do so, the Prime Minister is making excuses saying it would be 'very difficult'," Woodhouse said.


"The Government is failing to act while the rest of the world is taking this situation seriously. They need to take action and get these Kiwis home."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was exploring evacuation options with other countries.

"Options include the possibility of places being made available for New Zealanders on charter flights leaving Wuhan, or assisted departure by NZDF [New Zealand Defence Force] which is more complex," a spokesperson said.

The spokesperson warned New Zealanders currently in China that they "must comply with all Chinese laws, rules and regulations including the travel restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities to contain the virus".

The US Department of State is making arrangements to get its Government staff out of Wuhan, but there are no New Zealand Government officials in the city.