Coronavirus outbreak: People who have been in China should stay away from school - Ministry of Education

New Zealand's Ministry of Education is urging students and staff who may have recently been in China to voluntarily stay away from school for up to 14 days.

The virus has caused alarm because it's still too early to know how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people.

There are currently no confirmed cases in New Zealand.

However, the Ministry of Education says, in an advisory for principals posted online, that the health of staff and students was a priority.

People were encouraged to be cautious, secretary for education Ioana Holsted says.

"This is a new virus and its specific nature is currently unclear, however, it appears you can have the virus at an early stage and not be showing any symptoms."

Anyone who has recently been in China or may have been in close contact with someone with the virus are being asked to stay away from school for two weeks.

"As always anyone who is unwell should not be at school or at their early learning service," Holsted says.

"If you have a particular concern about any child, student, or staff member, please contact Healthline at 0800 611 116 or their GP for medical advice."

Meanwhile, health advice cards in traditional and simplified Chinese are available at international points of entry for people arriving in the country.

The virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Since then it has spread to 14 other countries, including Australia. 

It can spread by human-to-human transmission. However, little is known about the illness.

There is currently no vaccine.