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Coronavirus fears - Auckland schools order students in China over school holidays to stay away

Schools in Auckland are ordering students who have been to China over the holidays to stay away amid a new coronavirus outbreak, with one school asking international students to stay away as well.

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Three cities in China are placed into lockdown with travel restrictions in place. Source: Breakfast

It comes despite Education NZ issuing a statement today saying schools didn't need to be concerned about the outbreak.

In a letter to parents today, supplied to 1 NEWS, Willowbank School said students who suspect they may have been in contact with the virus or nearby areas "are required to stay away from school for one week".

Students who have been to China at all during the school holidays are also asked to "urgently advise the school".

A similar request has been made at Elim Christian College, which also says international students enrolled at the school who are currently in China "will be informed their return to New Zealand must be delayed".

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Currently they face a two-week delay but their return to New Zealand would be based on whether there is greater clarification around the outbreak from the World Health Organization, there's been an update from the school, and whether the homestay is still happy to host them.

Even after they arrive, they'll be made to stand down for at least a week while getting a medical certificate from local professionals, according to the letter sent to parents today and seen by 1 NEWS.

Like at Willowbank, families who travelled to Asia during the holiday period are asked to contact the school directly.

The reaction is vastly different from official advice issued today.

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The World Health Organisation has brought together experts on whether the outbreak in China should be declared a global emergency. Source: 1 NEWS

"The Ministry of Health’s current advice is that at this stage there is no specific action you need to take and the risk of an outbreak in New Zealand is currently low," Education New Zealand said in a statement today.

"Should the Ministry of Health determine that the situation has changed, we will inform you of this as soon as possible. We will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Health and other partner agencies, and will update you as information becomes available."

The new coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, late last year, has been named 2019-nCoV.

The same family of viruses can cause the common cold and symptoms are similar, including a fever and respiratory issues.

Today China said 26 people have died of 2019-nCoV since the outbreak began, with another 830 cases diagnosed.

Wuhan has been shut down and isolated to try and prevent the disease from spreading further.

The Ministry of Health says there are no cases of 2019-nCoV in New Zealand to date, with risk of an outbreak low.

"WHO does not recommend border screening for 2019-nCoV, and there are currently no travel restrictions at the New Zealand border related to this outbreak," it says.

The World Health Organization says it's too early to declare an international public health emergency.

Around 11 million people live in Wuhan.

Is your school restricting students who have been to China over the holidays? Email Breanna.Barraclough@tvnz.co.nz