New Zealand's Ministry of Health is preparing for a pandemic situation as Covid-19 coronavirus cases outside China continue to rise.
Although the World Health Organisation has not yet announced a global pandemic, Ministry of Health Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said they are preparing for it.
“We are moving to plan as if a pandemic had already been declared,” he said at a press conference in Wellington this afternoon.
He says the decision means protective medical equipment would be easily available to those needing it should an epidemic break out in New Zealand.
Also announced today was $3 million in funding for Covid-19 outbreak planning.
This money will go towards a broad range of research including a possible vaccine.
It comes as South Korea announced a further 163 Covid-19 cases today, taking the total in the country to 766 people infected and seven deaths.
There have been no Covid-19 cases detected in New Zealand so far and today Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced travel restrictions on Chinese travellers will be extended.
Dr Bloomfield says 4200 people who arrived in the country from China in early February have now completed their 14 day self-isolation with a further 5150 people still self-isolating.
There are currently 79,152 confirmed cases worldwide, including 2470 fatalities.