New Zealand to ban travellers from China to protect against coronavirus

New Zealand will ban travellers from China to protect against coronavirus. This will take effect from Monday and will be in place for up to 14 days, the Government has announced.

Any foreign travellers who leave or transit through mainland China after February 2 will be refused entry to New Zealand.

New Zealand citizens and permanent residents returning to New Zealand will still be able to enter, as will their immediate family members, but will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival back in the country.

"We have been advised by health officials that while there are still a range of unknowns in the way the virus is being transmitted, we should take a precautionary approach and temporarily stop travel into New Zealand from mainland China, and of people who have recently been in China," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.

"It is critically important that we both protect New Zealanders from the virus and play our part in the global effort to contain it."

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters stressed this is not a decision that has been taken lightly.

"Ultimately, this is a public health decision. The outbreak has been well-managed by China, and these temporary measures are to reinforce work being done to try and reduce human to human transmission," he said.

"New Zealand has not had a confirmed case of the virus and the risk of outbreak is low and we want to keep it that way. The health and safety of New Zealanders is our main priority.

"I have been in close contact with my Chinese counterpart on New Zealand's decision and have conveyed New Zealand's willingness to assist with China's efforts to control and defeat the virus."

The Government's announcement comes a day after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced it will also deny entry to any foreign travellers who have passed through China.

It also mimics US President Donald Trump's announcement on Friday any foreign nationals who have visited China in the past fourteen days will be banned from entering the country.