'Let's see the urgency' - Simon Bridges again hammers Government over coronavirus response

Source: 1News

National Party leader Simon Bridges called out the Government's response to the coronavirus outbreak in China for the second day in a row, saying officials have acted "too little, too late".

The coronavirus death toll has jumped past 100 and there are now more than 4500 confirmed cases of infection in mainland China. The virus has also spread to other nations throughout Asia, Europe, the US and Australia. There are no confirmed cases in New Zealand as of yet.

Mr Bridges told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning the situation was "hugely concerning", and reiterated yesterday's allegations that our Government isn't doing enough to protect our people and bring home Kiwis in the locked down city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started.

"I just don't think they're acting fast enough. There's this issue of over 50 New Zealanders who are there in this province, and if I was there I would be hoping and praying and have expectation the Government would be getting me out.

"Right about now the US is leaving with a plane or planes, they've been working with other countries, Korea and Japan, to get their people out. So a question, for example, is: Are we doing anything about that? Have we been in communication with them?

"I'd like to see a sense of urgency, whereas all I think we're getting from the PM and [Deputy Prime Minister] Winston Peters is, 'Oh look, this is complicated and da da da.' No, look, I think we do require and expect reasonably some actions on the ground now."

Flights, trains and public transport have been on lockdown, with many private cars also restricted, since last week in Wuhan, as the novel coronavirus has spread - killing 81 people and infecting 2700 so far. 

But While Mr Bridges admitted with such military action it was getting harder, he felt other nations were ahead.

"The reality is Aussie, UK, US, Japan, I could keep going on, they are counties that are further ahead on this."

He also called out diplomats "on holiday", meaning calls from people "hugely concerned" to the embassy went to an answering service.

"I'm genuinely not trying to do this as a sort of whack. I just think lets get some action, lets see the urgency rather than just the, quote, 'exploring options', which isn't good enough."

Officials say evacuation options for new Zealanders stranded in the Chinese city of Wuhan are being "actively explored" amid the virus outbreak. 

There are 53 New Zealanders registered on SafeTravel as being in Wuhan city, 20 of which have contacted Foreign Affairs, and none have any symptoms.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there are still issues that need to be worked through before any evacuations take place.

Watch Simon Bridges' full interview below.