“The Government must explain why it hasn’t stopped flights arriving from China until the risk associated with coronavirus is known”, ACT Leader David Seymour says.
“The Health Minister says the risk to New Zealand is ‘low’ but it’s clear the Government doesn’t yet have the full picture.
“David Clark says he is simply following the advice of the World Health Organisation. But it isn’t the World Health Organisation’s job to calculate the risks and benefits of continuing to accept travellers from China. That is the job of our government. Clark must explain his rationale for continuing to allow flights to arrive.
“Health officials at the border aren’t able to test for the virus. We are dealing with a virus the seriousness of which is unknown.
“There are now more than 2000 cases of coronavirus worldwide – including in Australia – with 56 deaths. The Chinese President has called it a ‘grave’ situation. The new school year will soon bring an influx of international students.
“The Health Minister must explain why the Government hasn’t taken a precautionary approach and stopped all flights from China until it knows more.
“It’s difficult to believe that we should risk the lives of New Zealanders for the sake of the convenience of the travellers who will arrive today on two flights from China.
“Does anyone seriously believe the Chinese government would hesitate for one moment to stop flights arriving from New Zealand if the shoe was on the other foot?
“In fact, the government in Beijing is preventing tour groups from heading overseas and is restricting travel to the capital. The New Zealand government must consider taking similar steps.
“What is the point of having a government if it won’t take serious measures to prevent a deadly virus from entering the country?
“The reality is that we don’t yet know the full risk of coronavirus to New Zealand. If the Health Minister wants to tell New Zealanders there is zero risk, the onus is on him to front up and show us that is the case. If he can’t, he must explain why flights continue to arrive from China.”