Coronavirus: China and Iran travel ban extended with new requirements for South Korea and Italy

Travel restrictions on China and Iran have been extended for a further seven days amid the coronavirus outbreak, with new requirements on travellers from South Korea and northern Italy. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement on Monday, telling reporters in Wellington it is a "balanced precautionary approach" based on advice from officials. 

Travellers from South Korea and northern Italy will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in New Zealand. Ardern said it "recognises that while there are outbreaks in both counties, they have developed health systems". 

The temporary travel restrictions have been extended until 11:59pm on Tuesday 10 March.

The self-isolation policy also extends to people who were aboard the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship that was docked in Japan, where two Kiwis tested positive with the virus last month. 

Health Minister Dr David Clark said the international situation with COVID-19, or coronavirus, "continues to evolve rapidly" and that the Government's priority "remains protecting the health and safety of the public". 

He said travel restrictions "continue to be an important part of our comprehensive response" and that China "remains the largest single source of COVID-19 cases". 

The vast majority of deaths have been recorded in China: more than 2900, compared to more than 80,000 confirmed cases. 

However, statistics show more than 44,000 people have recovered from the virus in China. 

As for Iran, Dr Clark said there is "clearly ongoing community transmission there". 

He said it "makes sense to use temporary travel restrictions to limit the potential spread of the disease from both countries.... However there are also concerning outbreaks in northern Italy and South Korea". 

South Korea has recorded 22 deaths and more than 4000 cases of COVID-19, which is currently affecting 67 countries and territories around the world. 

Italy has recorded more than 1690 total cases and 34 deaths, while Iran has recorded more than 900 cases of the virus and 54 deaths.  

Ardern also announced that the Government will give an extra $4 million to the Regional Business Partner Network to help "protect jobs and the economy". 

She said New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) say it has seen an increase in regional businesses reaching out for support because of the economic effects of coronavirus. 

Ardern said the Government currently invests $15.2 million a year in the programme and that the $4 million is additional. 

The Prime Minister's announcements follow her confirmation on Friday that a New Zealander had contracted the virus, after returning from Iran via Bali early last week.  

Ardern said on Monday the patient is in a "stable and improving condition". 

So far, more than 3000 people have died from the virus, with more than 88,000 cases confirmed worldwide.