From Dr Caroline McElnay, Director of Public Health, Ministry of Health
The Ministry of Health is aware of a cluster cases of pneumonia cases caused by a novel coronavirus being in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China, as well as of one case reported from Thailand in a traveller from Wuhan.
At this stage there appears to be no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.
As recommended by the World Health Organization there are currently no travel or border restrictions being put in place.
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The current WHO recommendations on public health measures and surveillance of influenza and severe acute respiratory infections should be applied. WHO advises people follow the basic principles to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections. These are:
- avoid close contact with people suffering acute respiratory infections
- frequently wash hands, especially after contact with ill people or their environment
- avoid close contact with sick live farm animals ore wild animals
- people with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes worth disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
The Ministry has been in frequent communication with the health sector to give advice, since we became aware of novel coronavirus.
The Ministry continues to monitor the situation. We will update our advice as further information becomes available.
The Ministry of Health is keeping a close watch on developments in China where an outbreak of an unusual viral pneumonia is reported.
The WHO has not recommended any border measures to countries to date.
Some countries use thermal screening as part of their border control measures to help detect individuals with fever at the border.
To date, the evidence is that thermal screening is generally ineffective at detecting influenza.
A 2014 Canadian review concluded that the high number of false detections along with the limited effectiveness meant that the evidence did not support introducing them.
The Ministry continues to monitor developments in this area but has no current plans to recommend their use in New Zealand.