12 Feb 2020

Covid-19: Healthline to contact all February China arrivals within days

9:48 am on 12 February 2020

New Zealand health authorities are moving to contact people who have arrived from China but are not among the roughly 1850 registered as being in self isolation in so far.

Mon 3rd Feb 2020 - Ministry of Health Novel Coronavirus press conference.  Update on how New Zealanders in China will be evacuated.  Dr Ashley Bloomfield is pictured.

New Zealand's Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

Health Minister David Clark announced yesterday that Customs would share data with public health officials to keep tabs on any New Zealanders who have returned from China.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told RNZ's Morning Report that Healthline would be following up with all the people who had not registered themselves as being in self-imposed isolation.

  • The number for information about coronavirus or registering self-isolation is 0800 358 5453

"Customs, who are collecting data at the border on people coming into New Zealand - in particular this group who are arriving ... either from or through China - as they collect that information they can share it with us and we've organised for Healthline to then proactively make contact with those people, to check on them and to register them in self isolation," he said.

He said anyone arriving from or via China was receiving information about the virus, now officially called Covid-19, including that they would be expected to isolate themselves.

"We know they've been given advice, we know they'll be very aware of the expectation - there's a high degree of publicity around this - and really the self-registration serves a purpose of us being able to keep in contact with them, make sure their wellbeing and welfare are okay."

He said fewer people were now arriving in New Zealand from China, from about 1000 a day early in that period, to about 500 a day in the past few days.

People wearing masks walk the Beijing Station area in the snow in Beijing on 6 February 2020.

People wearing masks walk the Beijing Station area on 6 February. Photo: AFP

He said he expected Healthline would have contacted all the people who needed to be within the next few days.

Meanwhile, the New Zealanders who were evacuated from Wuhan - the city of 11 million people where the virus originated - have now settled into their quarantine at a repurposed Defence Force training base in Whangaparāoa.

Covid-19 has now infected more than 43,000 people worldwide, killing more than 1000. Despite having been reported in now more than 30 other countries, fewer than 500 infections and only one death have been outside Chinese borders.

However, China yesterday reported a new record number of daily deaths from the virus - 108 - yesterday.

Otago University public health professor Michael Baker on Monday said the virus appeared likely to become a global pandemic.

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