Coronavirus: Ministry of Health urges unwell NZers to stay home, avoid mass gatherings

New Zealanders are urged not to attend public gatherings if they are feeling unwell amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield advised all New Zealanders to "please stay at home" if they are feeling unwell, regardless of the severity of their illness.

"It's particularly important for large events, concerts and other mass gatherings," he said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Two major public events are scheduled for the coming weekend, including the Pasifika Festival in Auckland and the Christchurch commemoration service to mark the first anniversary of the mosque shootings. 

"Please stay home if you are unwell and watch them on TV or enjoy doing something else," Dr Bloomfield warned.

"Now is the time for us to be even more vigilant. Handwashing and good coughing and sneezing etiquette is imperative."

Dr Bloomfield reiterated that the ministry's efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 rely heavily on people remaining at home while feeling unwell.

"Fundamental to our response is not putting yourself or others at risk if you are unwell - not going to work or being out in public 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.

"I know that all of us are guilty at times of going to work if it's 'not too bad'... this is the time when we've got to be much more strict with ourselves and our families."

A number of North Shore Hospital staff returned to work on Wednesday after self-isolating due to an earlier hospitalisation of a probable case.

Other staff will progressively return - if they remain well, all staff will be back at work by Monday, March 16.

No further cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since the country's fifth case was announced on Saturday.