New Zealand clear of coronavirus but health officials still 'cautious'

New Zealand is clear of coronavirus, health officials confirmed on Thursday.

No one in New Zealand has contracted the virus or fits the definition for a suspected case.

"If and when we get a confirmed case, we will inform the public as soon as we can," said Health Minister David Clark. 

Although the country is clear, the recommendations for people returning from China have changed. 

Confirmed cases of the virus in China have now reached over 7000 and 170 people have died.

"Anyone travelling to New Zealand who has been in Wuhan or the Hubei province in the last 14 days should self-isolate," Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told media.

"It has now changed from a 'could' to a 'should',"

He said health officials are being "very cautious".

"The big difference is this is a novel virus - we don't know what is going to happen or what the epidemiology is going to be as this develops so of course, we are very cautious." 

Australia and New Zealand are partnering to evacuate citizens trapped in Wuhan, and Bloomfield says all precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of evacuees and those caring for them. 

"Aside from the decision about what happens to them when they get here, there will be a pre-flight screening and then decisions about keeping staff safe on the flight."

The Government has agreed to charter a flight with Air New Zealand to assist the evacuation of citizens in Wuhan, Winston Peters confirmed on Thursday.

The plane can carry up to 300 passengers. 

"New Zealand will be offering any additional seats to Pacific Island and Australian citizens as a matter of priority," said a statement from Peters. 

Australia has announced it will quarantine its evacuees on Christmas Island. New Zealand is "looking into" where evacuees would be placed.

"All avenues are being looked into as what the appropriate housing would be for Kiwi evacuees from Wuhan."