Coronavirus: Not enough health information given on China flights - Kiwi traveller

A Kiwi traveller returning home from China says Chinese airlines don't appear to be giving passengers information about how to stay healthy on flights.

Sin-Mae Chung landed in Auckland yesterday after being in China for a month. 

She says the atmosphere in Guangzhou was extremely tense as people struggled to stay up to date with information about coronavirus.

"Masks were completely sold out, the news on television was all about coronavirus - so you could kind of feel this build-up where it just got more serious," Chung told Newshub.

She says there was a screening process before boarding her China Southern Airlines flight but no health information was given.

"Just as you arrive at the airport, just as you enter they take a swab of your luggage and your body, and they run the test. If anyone has tested positive that's when they do individual testing," she said.

"Coming through, the airline did not specifically tell us what we should be looking out for."

Upon landing in New Zealand, Chung was given an information card about the virus from the Ministry of Health but subjected to no other tests, she said.

More than 7500 have been infected with the virus so far, with the death toll at 170.

The virus has spread to more than a dozen countries and many governments are scrambling to get their citizens out of Wuhan, a city of 11 million which is the epicentre of the outbreak that has been placed in lockdown.

On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced that the Government would be chartering an Air New Zealand flight to get Kiwis stranded in the city out.

All New Zealanders in the city were encouraged to register on SafeTravel.

Air New Zealand chief executive Jeff McDowall said it is hoped the flight will leave in the coming days.

"We're looking really closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as we plan all the operational and practical issues that you need to resolve for an operation like this."

The top priority, he said, was safety.

"The wellbeing and safety of our crew is of absolute critical importance to us. We're working closely with health authorities and our own medical team on safe protocol on the flight."

The plane will have room for around 300 people.

As fears about the spread of the virus mount, many airlines have stopped flying to China, making it even harder for those stuck there to get out.

Air New Zealand flights between Auckland and Shanghai are still operating, as are direct flights from China to New Zealand with Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Hainan Airlines and Sichuan Airlines.

Newshub has contacted China Southern Airlines for comment.