Calls to Healthline have surged in the past week and 385 people have registered for self-isolation in the past day, as the global coronavirus outbreak worsens.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said 359 of those registered for self-isolation since February 8 had travelled from China in the previous 14 days.

"It's very encouraging that so many people are committed to ensuring they look after their own health, and the health of the wider community."

Those in self-isolation should register on the Healthline website if they had not already, Bloomfield said.

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"Registering will help those in isolation as much as it helps us – it will mean we can regularly check on people's welfare and wellbeing as well as helping support New Zealand's overall response to novel coronavirus."

Meanwhile Ministry of Health workers have continued to ensure the welfare of the evacuated Kiwis under quarantine at the Whangaparaoa Military Training Facility, Bloomfield said.

A government-chartered emergency flight from Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, landed at Auckland Airport last Wednesday.

Ministry of Health support staff at the Whangaparāoa Military Base, where 157 Wuhan evacuees are in quarantine. Photo / Supplied
Ministry of Health support staff at the Whangaparāoa Military Base, where 157 Wuhan evacuees are in quarantine. Photo / Supplied

Although the 157 evacuees were in isolation, Bloomfield said it was important they continue their normal routines.

"Chinese New Year is an important cultural event and [honoured] that for our guests with Chinese heritage and all others.

"Guests and staff organised the event together, showing the community spirit of those staying there."

At least 800 people have died from the virus so far and thousands more infected globally.


Since January 30, 1585 people have called Healthline about coronavirus. Calls to the service are up 25 per cent from this time last year.

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Andrew Slater, CEO of Healthline's National Telehealth, has addressed media in Auckland this afternoon.

He urged anyone who was self-isolating on Ministry of Health advice to register with the service by calling 0800 358 5453 or +64 9 358 5453 from an international sim.

Since registration went live on Friday, nobody spoken to had met the clinical criteria for coronavirus or been advised to visit a GP, Slater said.

Those calling will be asked for contact information, as well as about health and welfare - such as access to food and medications. Healthline will regularly call back over the 14-day quarantine period to check on those in isolation.

People do not need to self-isolate if they have been exposed to someone who has been to mainland China, but do need to if they have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus.

"Those calling are mostly wanting to know about self-isolation and what that means as well as our information on the virus in general."

Self-isolation meant avoiding being around others or face-to-face contact with someone within 1m for 15 minutes, Slater said.

Kelvin Gin and his three children on their way to Beijing Airport in a bid to escape the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Photo / Supplied
Kelvin Gin and his three children on their way to Beijing Airport in a bid to escape the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Photo / Supplied

He directed people to the Ministry Of Health website, which it is updating daily.


Symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.

Although the number of people calling Healthline to register was climbing, it was a voluntary process, Slater said.

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"It's on the individuals and they should call us and clarify if they need to self-isolate or not," Slater said.

More than 450 staff answer phones at Healthline. Some were working extra shifts and others were being trained to handle the increase in call volumes.

"We'll be able to answer these inquiries and queries for as long as it's an issue in the community."

Healthline had received concerned calls from people who believed someone they know should be self-isolating.

Such callers were advised to speak to the person in question about their travel. There was no phone number to call to "report" those someone believed should be in self-isolation.