Coronavirus: Diplomatic posts closed due to COVID-19 fears

The government has temporarily closed a high commission and an embassy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Zealand's high commission in Bridgetown, Barbados and the NZ embassy in Yangon, Myanmar are closed because of the scarcity of air links to the cities.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters says Kiwi staff and their families in these locations will be withdrawn for health and safety reasons. When they return to New Zealand, they will contribute to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' COVID-19 response work in Wellington.

Although these are the only current closures, Peters isn't ruling out temporarily shutting other diplomatic posts.

"With the rapidly changing health, safety and security situation for staff overseas due to COVID-19, we cannot rule out other temporary closures as a result of the pandemic," he says.

"We are actively working to sustain our network around the globe and we have every intention to keep the vast majority of New Zealand's 62 diplomatic posts open."

The high commission in Barbados closed on Sunday, and the embassy in Yangon will close on Monday. The temporary closures will be reviewed in a month's time.

Peters advises that all New Zealanders cancel their overseas travel plans at this time. He also encourages all Kiwis travelling to register on and try to return home "as soon as possible".

Peters' comments come after he said on Thursday it would be "selfish" of Kiwis to travel overseas at this time.

"New Zealanders who travel overseas risk contracting COVID-19. At the same time, health care systems in many countries are under strain and do not have the capacity to support foreigners.

"It is selfish because they imperil the population back here if they go overseas and come back. They're going to have to self-isolate for 14 days."

Also on Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the borders will close to all non-citizens and non-residents of New Zealand.

She said it was the first time in the country's history this had been done.