4 Feb 2020

Novel Coronavirus: What you need to know

From Morning Report, 6:38 am on 4 February 2020

Chinese authorities has granted an Air New Zealand plane permission to land in Wuhan to evacuate the Kiwis who've spent close to two weeks under lockdown because of the Novel Coronavirus outbreak.

The government-chartered Air New Zealand plane will arrive in Wuhan around 2am New Zealand Time tomorrow, 9pm local time, and is scheduled to pick up 70 New Zealanders.

The flight should then arrive back in Auckland late Wednesday afternoon. Lily Gao and her two-year-old daughter Elysse have been cooped up in her parents' house in Wuhan since the lockdown was imposed on 23 January.

The New Zealand Consulate contacted Gao yesterday with the news she'd been hoping for - if well enough, she and her daughter will be allowed to board the emergency flight that will take them back to Auckland and her husband.

They'll need to undergo rigorous testing to ensure they aren't carrying the coronavirus before they're allowed on the plane.

In other developments The Chinese government has accused the US of causing "panic" in its response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

It follows the US decision to lead the pack and declare a public health emergency and deny entry to foreign nationals who had visited China in the past two weeks.

New Zealand, Australia, Japan and a number of other countries have since followed suit.

There are now more than 17,000 confirmed cases of the virus in China.

Some 361 people have died there.

Outside China, there are more than 150 confirmed cases of the virus - but still only one death, in the Philippines.

China is now calling urgently for medical supplies to help it fight the outbreak.

The outbreak is also now posing an enormous threat to the global economy.

Asian markets plunged in the first day of trading after the extended lunar new year holiday bringing China's stock markets down to a near one-year-low at closing shaving of some US$450 billion in market value.