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'Let's pool the resources' - Ardern asks National Party to cooperate in tackling coronavirus challenges

Parliament needs to unite to keep the public safe through the coronavirus outbreak, instead of turning it into a political football, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

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With five cases confirmed, Parliament needs to work together to ensure public safety and secure the economy, the Prime Minister says. Source: Breakfast

With five confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, National's leader Simon Bridges and his party have criticised the Government's response to the outbreak.

Ms Ardern has repeatedly denied allegations of slackness and today reiterated that they're going above and beyond guidelines from the World Health Organization.

"I made the point in the House that actually this is a global issue and it's also obviously affecting all of New Zealand and will do for some time," she told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

"There's no need for us to put politics into that."

Over the weekend Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the Director-General of Health, briefed National's health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse directly, something they're going to keep offering so the party is across the same information the Government is, Ms Ardern says.

"Really my offer to them, given this is a New Zealand issue, let's pool the resources and some of the ideas that might be had about how we can lessen the impact as much as possible. 

"When I say meaningful ideas, mostly I see that in the economic response. What we need for public health is a research and evidence-based response. That's why we're sharing with them openly what we're doing and why."

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National’s Michael Woodhouse says the information being provided at the border is “generic and six years old”. Source: Breakfast

On Thursday, Mr Woodhouse openly criticised the Government's efforts against the coronavirus outbreak, telling Breakfast he thinks the Ministry of Health has dropped the ball and the public deserves better.

“It’s not just criticism from me, we are hearing from passengers arriving at international airports that there is not enough being done to screen them at the border… the information that they’re handing out is generic and six-years-old," he said.

Meanwhile with the virus continuing to spread overseas, Ms Ardern encourages travellers to register with Safe Travel online so their locations are known in case of emergency or quarantine.

Italy becomes country with second highest number of coronavirus cases

A number of New Zealanders are currently in Italy, where a lockdown is in force across the northern region to try prevent the spread, but the exact total isn't known because not everyone has registered.

New Zealand is providing consular support to those who have asked for it so far, Ms Ardern says, but a lot of people will be "having their needs met locally".