COVID-19: Simon Bridges blasts coronavirus response amid reports people being denied tests

National leader Simon Bridges is doubling down on his criticism of the Government's response to the coronavirus outbreak amid reports of people being denied tests in Wellington. 

Bridges told reporters on Tuesday he's heard "people are being turned away from Wellington Hospital, because although they clearly have the symptoms and have been offshore, they are not being allowed to have the tests and the like". 

A Wellington Hospital doctor, who has not been named, told Stuff tests were being declined for people who had been to the US, parts of Europe, Vietnam, and Australia - which are not currently considered at-risk regions. 

The Opposition leader also criticised the Government's economic response to the outbreak of coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, which has so far killed more than 3000 people worldwide and infected more than 90,000.

"New Zealand needs a strong, comprehensive economic plan. We are not seeing that from [Finance Minister] Grant Robertson," Bridges said. 

"National knows what to do in terms of significant income tax relief and serious infrastructure starting now - not in a year or two's time - and serious regulation reduction."

The Finance Minister did provide an economic update on the Government's response in a speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and Massey University last week. 

He outlined ways the Government is helping businesses stay afloat as the economy begins to suffer from a lack of trade with China, where the virus originated and where travel restrictions have been put in place - as well as Iran. 

Robertson has pointed to "automatic stabilisers" that are kicking in to help the economy, such as Ministry of Social Development (MSD) staff assisting workers in affected industries, and IRD overseeing tax arrangements for struggling businesses.  

He also said the Reserve Bank has "room to move if the situation deteriorates". 

ANZ economists now expect the Reserve Bank to cut the Official Cash Rate (OCR) this month as the global economy slows down, and Robertson said on Tuesday that's a decision of them. 

"We're hearing rumours from the northern hemisphere about what central banks might be thinking. I'm sure the Reserve Bank here will have that closely in mind," he told reporters. 

"We're still talking about a situation where we have specific impacts on specific sectors so the automatic stabilisers are kicking in, we've got more activity coming through MSD and IRD, and possibly monetary responses."

Bridges suggested the Finance Minister needs to do more, telling reporters: "Waiting around for the Reserve Bank isn't going to get us anywhere and that seems to be where Grant Robertson's head is at."

He said the Finance Minister "should be thinking seriously about tax relief". 

Robertson told The AM Show on Tuesday morning that he is not ruling out tax relief if the economic situation deteriorates and that all options are on the table. 

"If we move into a situation where we're moving beyond protecting people's jobs - which is definitely our goal at the moment - to protecting people's incomes, then you have to look at the options that are best suited for doing that." 

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

Two weeks ago, the Government announced an $11 million package to help the tourism industry face the impact of the virus outbreak, following travel restrictions put in place. 

Ardern said on Monday travel restrictions on China and Iran have been extended for a further seven days, with new requirements on travellers from South Korea and northern Italy to self-isolate upon arrival in New Zealand for 14 days. 

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. 

Ardern told reporters on Tuesday that she had met with representatives from the Council of Trade Unions, Business New Zealand, exporters, horticultural and tourism sector on Monday night. 

"It was a chance to give a quick update on some of the initiatives that we as a Government have undertaken to make sure we are prepared and doing what we can to support businesses who may already be, or may be affected, by COVID-19."

So far, New Zealand has had one confirmed case of COVID-19.