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Auckland International Airport.

MFAT urges New Zealanders travelling overseas to return home

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is urging New Zealanders travelling overseas to consider returning home as soon as possible, while flights are still available. 

In a statement, it said due to the outbreak of COVID-19 countries around the world are imposing strict travel restrictions leading to a reduction in passenger numbers and many air routes will not remain commercially viable for long.

It also advised all New Zealanders to avoid all non-essential travel overseas due to the outbreak of COVID-19, associated health risks and travel restrictions.

There are 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Zealand, all relating to overseas travel. There is no community spread yet and the Ministry of Health says that with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low.

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Air NZ has reduced capacity across their international network, suspending flights between Auckland and cities in Japan, Canada, Argentina, Indonesia and the U.S. It will also be significantly reducing flights between the Pacific Island and Australian schedules between April and June. Flight suspensions to Shanghai and Seoul remain in place.

Several events have been cancelled, including this year's joint Anzac Day services at Gallipoli, the New Zealand and Australian Governments announced.

Worldwide, there are 195,957 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 7,869 people have died from it, since it originated at a live animal market in Wuhan, China. More cases and deaths have now been reported in the rest of the world than in China. 

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced a $12.1 billion economic stimulus package to counter the negative effects the virus is having on the economy.

New border measures are in place as of Monday 16 March. Most travellers arriving in New Zealand are now required to self isolate for 14 days – check the Ministry of Health's information for travellers arriving to New Zealand to find out more. 

If you have been overseas within the last 14 days and develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath, phone Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 or contact your GP, including phoning ahead of your visit.

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