13 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: More travel restrictions are on the way - PM

1:08 pm on 13 March 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there will be further border restrictions as New Zealand responds to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Watch the Prime Minister's briefing here:

New Zealand still has five confirmed cases based on positive test results and two probable cases, after the Health Ministry confirmed there are no additional cases in the country, for the sixth day in a row.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Ardern said more border restrictions are on the way, and the Covid-19 Cabinet Committee will meet over the weekend to discuss what exactly they will be.

Ardern said additional work was needed around the potential ramifications of the committee's decisions, such as access to pharmaceutical products that come into the country through passenger travel.

Ms Ardern expects to announce the new travel restrictions over the weekend.

At the moment, foreign travellers arriving from mainland China and Iran are banned from entering the country. Travellers from South Korea and Italy are asked to self-isolate for two weeks on arrival.

Ardern also said New Zealand had a responsibility as a gateway to the Pacific to do everything it could to stop the spread of Covid-19 there.

Auckland's Pasifika Festival has been cancelled, amid concerns about the virus being transmitted to the Pacific Islands.

Ardern said if Covid-19 was to spread in the Pacific, it would be hugely damaging to its health system.

Ardern said a large number of people were travelling from the Islands for the event and letting it go ahead was a risk Cabinet was not willing to take.

Officials are yet to decide if Polyfest, which is set to take place in the city next weekend, will still go ahead.

Two patients who were in hospital - one confirmed case and one probable - have both been discharged and are recovering at home with daily checks.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said Healthline was busy but coping with twice the usual number of calls.

He said all 252 close contacts of the confirmed cases in self-isolation were being monitored daily and planning was underway for scaling up New Zealand's ability to contact trace individuals exposed to others with the coronavirus.

"Our key advice, which is fundamental to our response, is not putting yourself or others at risk if you are unwell. This means not going to work or going to places where there are other people if you are sick. All of us have a role to play in stopping further spread. I need to emphasise how critical this is as New Zealand responds to Covid-19," Dr Bloomfield said.

"This is particularly important for concerts and other large gatherings we have coming up, including this weekend. Please stay home if you're unwell."

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