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While the Government is currently failing to address the coronavirus situation effectively, there is a series of practical steps they should be taking, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“If the Government wanted to ensure New Zealanders’ safety and protect us from this virus, they should be implementing the following steps;

  • Question passengers checking in on flights where they commenced travel from in China and their present health status
  • Provide information in a variety of languages, not just Chinese, on the virus to all passengers flying into New Zealand of the risk, what signs and symptoms to look out for and who to contact if they become unwell
  • Have public health staff in the arrivals halls of all international airports actively screening passengers
  • Require customs officials to ask arriving passengers if they feel unwell
  • Liaise with Australian authorities to ascertain any connections between those infected and New Zealand
  • Connect with Chinese travel companies in New Zealand to monitor the health status of tour party individuals
  • Provide advice to the public on how they can keep themselves safe
  • Provide advice to schools on what they should be doing about international students arriving from China or domestic students who have holidayed in China
  • Provide advice to accommodation providers and tourism operators on what to do if guests become unwell with virus symptoms
  • Ensure general practitioners and public hospitals are familiar with protocols for managing international travellers presenting coronavirus symptoms
  • Ensure sufficient protective equipment is available to health providers in the event of an outbreak
  • Brief media regularly and provide reassurance to the public that everything possible is being done to keep Kiwis safe

“This should be the bare minimum in an event such as this. But as we’ve seen in the cases of meningococcal in Northland and measles, the Government’s responses to these issues is sadly lacking.

“The Government must take these proactive steps to ensure the coronavirus outbreak does not spread to New Zealand and give Kiwis confidence.”

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