Coronavirus: PM Jacinda Ardern outlines most impacted industries in New Zealand

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has given an update on the coronavirus outbreak, outlining the most-affected industries in New Zealand including tourism, education and seafood. 

The Prime Minister provided the update at her post-Cabinet press conference, where she said she had taken reports from every relevant minister on how their respective areas are being impacted by travel restrictions on China

Ardern confirmed there are 157 individuals in isolation at a Whangaparaoa military facility. Those individuals were picked up by a chartered Air New Zealand flight from Wuhan last week, the Chinese city where the coronavirus originated. 

"Frequent medical checks are being undertaken as you would expect at the camp," Ardern said. "As yet, we have no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Zealand; however we have two cases involving New Zealanders in Japan."

On Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) confirmed a second New Zealander had contracted the illness on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked off the coast of Japan.

"Border restrictions are being reviewed every 48 hours and have been reviewed now three times and continue to do so," the Prime Minister said. 

She said those in voluntary isolation can contact the Ministry of Health's National Telehealth Service, an integrated platform for people to access virtual health information, advice and support from trained health professionals.

"We're continuing to work on making sure that we marry up the information from Customs, Immigration and health services to provide that Telehealth service to those who are in voluntary isolation," Ardern said. 

From an immigration perspective, Ardern said border controls are "working well" and that there have been "very few" people attempting to travel to New Zealand who are not supposed to be, following the travel ban. 

"That preventative measure has been implemented fairly successfully."

The Prime Minister touched on the different industries affected by trade disruptions because of the coronavirus outbreak, such as rock lobster fishers. 

Exporters from New Zealand and other countries traditionally sell large numbers of rock lobster into China during Chinese New Year celebrations between January 25 and February 8, and the coronavirus has disrupted that trade. 

Fisheries New Zealand said the industry asked the Government to help manage the impact caused by cancelled orders as a result of coronavirus.

A large number of rock lobster have been held in land-based containers and in holding pots at sea, and the Government has decided that fishery officers can work to assist fishers to return a limited number of rock lobster back into the sea.

Ardern said the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has been working directly with the sector to make sure they are being as "flexible" as possible.

"Where we've had rock lobster held in pots within the ocean they're being able to be returned and with permission from MPI others have been returned," Ardern said. 

"We're looking at whether they will be able to carry over any of their annual entitlement."

Ardern said the forestry industry has also been affected by the virus fallout. 

NZ Forest Owners' Association said last week they were "bracing themselves for supply chain problems in China due to the outbreak of coronavirus". 

Ardern acknowledged that it comes at a time when forests are being cleared in Europe due to high rates of spruce beetle infestation, with large amounts of stock being sent to China. 

Ardern said Forestry Minister Shane Jones is looking at options to keep harvesters going, and that the Ministry of Social Development is looking at "what we can provide support-wise for that impacted industry". 

As for trade, Ardern said it's too soon to know the wider supply chain risks, but she said she thinks it "underscores the importance of a diversified trade profile for New Zealand and for our exporters". 

Looking at education, she said 59 percent of students who were expected to come to New Zealand to study were already here as of February 1. 

"That means the impacts are for those areas where students had not yet arrived."

Ardern said Immigration NZ has "extended relevant visas to try and lessen that impact but the knock-on effect will be determined by how long we have border controls in place". 

For tourism, Ardern said 13 percent of New Zealand's international visitor expenditure comes from the tourism market from China, predominantly in Rotorua, Queenstown and Auckland.

"We have got some analysis of how many small businesses are particularly dependent on that part of our tourism market and at the moment Tourism New Zealand is working with [Inland Revenue] on looking at potential options to ease the pressure that those businesses, including the way provisional tax is dealt with."

Ardern said her "strong message" to those businesses is to call Inland Revenue "sooner rather than later if you are experiencing any difficulties".

As of Monday, the coronavirus outbreak had taken the lives of more than 900 people.