National MP Michael Woodhouse has called for the Government to implement precautionary measures to manage the risk of the deadly coronavirus, blasting David Clark and Julie Anne Genter in the process.
On Saturday, four cases of the virus were confirmed across the Tasman, arriving with infected passengers travelling directly from Wuhan, China.
Woodhouse, National's spokesperson for health, outlined several steps to help proactively manage the risk of a coronavirus outbreak in New Zealand - steps he says "need to start now".
"It's not too late - there are steps that can be taken to manage this risk and hopefully prevent the virus from coming into New Zealand, if it isn't here already," Woodhouse said in a media briefing on Sunday.
"My colleagues and I have been inundated with correspondence... saying: 'We're seeing what's happening around the world - and we're seeing nothing happening in the country'. That says to me that there isn't enough being done about this."
Woodhouse criticised Green Party MP and Associate Minister for Health Julie Anne Genter for her "botched" response to the measles outbreak last year, saying New Zealand doesn't need "a repeat of that debacle".
He also took aim at Minister for Health Dr David Clark.
"He's not dealing with it - the reality is we haven't heard from David Clark here. He needs to step up [and] reassure the public that the ministry and health authorities do have this in hand, and there are steps we can take to manage the risk.
"It absolutely flummoxes me why sensible steps have not been taken to manage the risk, it's not as if this is novel. We've had several outbreaks like this in our global community in the last 15 to 20 years - we know what to do."
The MP said a passenger, who travelled from China to Auckland last night, reported to him that nearly everyone onboard were wearing masks as a precautionary measure - and were expecting more information on arrival.
"When they arrived at Auckland Airport, they were expecting to be screened and have information provided to them - there was none. I understand there is a small amount of information in Chinese at Auckland Airport, but of course we live in a global world," Woodhouse said.
"Certainly they should be screened for symptoms... information to passengers to be alert for signs and symptoms... and what to do if they do display those symptoms would be the number one priority. Certainly there can be questions at the border about whether people do feel unwell... and medical support available to them if they report those symptoms.
"They would be very practical, straightforward and not resource-intensive steps."
Shortly after Woodhouse's conference, Dr Clark released a statement announcing that the Government has convened the Interagency Pandemic Group and health staff to meet flights from China, alongside additional measures following the arrival of the disease in Australia.
"I'm advised that the risk of an outbreak in New Zealand remains low, but we are increasing our health response at the border as a precaution," Clark said in a statement.
"Health officials began preparations for placing staff at our major airports last week, and we will have that in place for all flights from China tomorrow."