New Zealand's travel ban on people travelling from mainland China has been extended for another eight days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.
The travel restriction began on February 2, in response to Covid-19 coronavirus cases. Ms Ardern said the Government is not looking at extending the travel ban to other countries.
"We are ready and we are very well prepared," should the virus make its way to New Zealand, Ms Ardern said.
"I can confirm the temporary travel restriction from mainland China has been extended for a further eight days to protect against coronavirus," Ms Ardern said.
The restriction has been continuously reviewed every 48 hours. New Zealand citizens and residents can still enter the country from China but are told to self isolate.
The restrictions prevent foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through, mainland China to New Zealand.
It comes as the Ministry of Health prepares for a pandemic situation as Covid-19 coronavirus cases outside China continue to rise.
When asked why the travel ban was not being extended to South Korea, Ms Ardern said that “these are matters of magnitude and the epicentre continues to be mainland China”.
The Government is also investigating the possibility of targeted exemptions for tertiary students intending to travel to New Zealand from China.
There have been no Covid-19 cases detected in New Zealand so far.
Also announced by the Government today was $3 million in funding for Covid-19 outbreak planning.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said 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.
Last week, the Prime Minister announced $11 million to go towards helping tourism operators impacted by coronavirus disruption.
Of the package, $10 million will go to Tourism NZ to diversify marketing in other countries and $1 million will go to domestic marketing around New Zealand of areas particularly impacted, including Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch and Queenstown.