Evacuation options for Kiwis stranded in coronavirus-hit Wuhan being 'actively explored' - MFAT

Evacuation options for New Zealanders stranded in the Chinese city of Wuhan are being "actively explored", officials confirmed today as the death toll from the coronavirus rises. 

A medical worker writes their colleague's name on a protective suit to aid in identification as they work at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province. Source: Associated Press

Flights, trains and public transport have been in lockdown, with many private cars also restricted since last week in Wuhan, as the novel coronavirus has spread - killing 106 people and infecting 4500 so far. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern advised media today Cabinet authorised an infectious and notifiable disease order – which means health practitioners and laboratories are required to notify medical officers of cases of coronavirus. 

Movement restrictions, court orders for treatment, 72 hour detention orders can be implemented.

There have been no cases of coronavirus in New Zealand. 

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The virus that originated in Wuhan, China is now a notifiable disease in New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

Schools were asked to request students arriving from mainland China go into voluntary two-week isolation before coming back to school.

Ms Ardern said that Chinese officials "made it very clear to us that it will be very difficult for us to extract anyone from the province because of the measures they have put in place".

While being questioned today by media on potential collaborative evacuation options with Australia, Ms Ardern received a phone call from its Prime Minister Scott Morrison. She did not answer it. 

"It would just make sense (to work together). We're in close contact in this situation.

"The work we're doing on the ground, the situation of our citizens and residents and making sure that we just keep up those conversations and just work together, that's exactly what you’d expect and it's what we're doing."

Ms Ardern's comments come after criticism from National this morning, who called for the Government to "stop sitting on its hands" and bring a family in Wuhan, China home. 

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told 1 NEWS evacuation options were being "actively explored". 

"Options include the possibility of places being made available for New Zealanders on charter flights leaving Wuhan, or assisted departure by NZDF which is more complex.  The US is the only partner country as this stage to deploy charter or military assets to assist US citizens."

They said 53 New Zealanders had registered on SafeTravel as being in Wuhan City and 20 contacted MFAT seeking consular assistance.  

"The New Zealand Embassy in Beijing was closed over Chinese New Year, the most important holiday period in China. However, embassy and consulate staff remained on duty working throughout the holiday period, in order to respond to the coronavirus. The Embassy will reopen to the public tomorrow.

"Embassy staff are working in close contact with the Chinese authorities to help provide detailed information to New Zealand government agencies, and provide consular assistance to New Zealanders seeking it.  All requests for consular assistance have been followed up by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff."