NZ's coronavirus travel ban extended to Iran, no exemptions for students from China

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

The Government has today announced a travel ban for Iran and that it will not be making exemptions for students from China to enter New Zealand as the global coronavirus outbreak worsens.

There will also be more health staff at New Zealand's international airports. 

Today's new measures come in response to the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus cases. 

New Zealand's travel ban on people travelling from mainland China has been in place since February 2. 

Health Minister David Clark said the travel ban on people from Iran was "a precaution".

"The situation in Iran is obviously concerning. There is ongoing spread of the disease there, and a large degree of uncertainty about the scale of the outbreak and the ability to contain it."

“Based on the medical and scientific advice, Ministers have put in place further temporary travel restrictions covering incoming travellers from Iran," Dr Clark said.

"This means people will not be able to travel from Iran to New Zealand and anyone who has been in Iran in the last 14 days will need to self-isolate.

"These restrictions will come into force immediately, and will initially apply until midnight March 3."

Dr Clark said the decision to not to allow any exemptions for overseas students from China into New Zealand was due to putting health as a priority. 

"We are seeing concerning trends internationally, with more and more countries reporting confirmed cases."

Last Monday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government was investigating the possibility of targeted exemptions for tertiary students intending to travel to New Zealand from China.

Yesterday, Auckland University announced a hiring freeze with $30 million in losses expected from the Chinese travel ban, affecting international student numbers.

"The advice from officials, including health was not to proceed with an exemption," Dr Clark said. 

"Allowing thousands of students into the country from China, and guaranteeing they were safely in self-isolation, would have been incredibly difficult to implement and was not a risk the Government was prepared to take on New Zealanders’ behalf."