PM Jacinda Ardern cancels Victoria University of Wellington O-Week visit at the last minute

PM Jacinda Ardern cancels Victoria University of Wellington O-Week visit at the last minute
Photo credit: Newshub

The Prime Minister has made a last minute cancellation to a public event she was due to attend in Wellington but her office denies it's related to coronavirus.

Jacinda Ardern was due to visit Clubs Day at Victoria University in Wellington for Orientation Week at 11.30am but pulled out just an hour beforehand. 

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office said it's because she's attending meetings instead, telling Newshub "she's dealing with matters in Wellington".

They confirmed with Newshub that last minute changes to the Prime Minister's schedule like this were unusual.

It comes as world leaders demonstrate caution when engaging with the public over fears of the coronavirus spreading out of China, where COVID-19 originated. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was refused a handshake by her interior minister Hoorst Seehofer at a meeting in Berlin on Monday, keeping both his hands to himself, as the number of coronavirus cases rose to 150 in the European nation. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is spending the weekend away at his country retreat and no details of his engagements for the weekend have been released, The Guardian reports, sparking speculation he is avoiding the public. 

Ardern said on Tuesday that she had not received any advice about whether she should limit her exposure to members of the public.

"No, and I continue to engage in the same public health practices I always do - cough etiquette, handwashing. The kind of advice that we give in the flu season is equally applicable now". 

Ardern's office also denied the impromptu Beehive meetings were related to New Zealand First.

The Prime Minister gave NZ First minister Shane Jones a telling off on Tuesday over comments about the Indian community that were labelled racist by the Race Relations Commissioner, Immigration Minister and Greens co-leader.