Health experts are urging the New Zealand government to consider halting all air travel to the Pacific if the Wuhan coronavirus arrives in New Zealand.
PACIFIC – There are fears the Chinese coronavirus outbreak could spell a repeat of an epidemic of measles that spread from New Zealand to Samoa, where it killed 83 people over recent months.
Samoa’s Ministry of Health has already confirmed that two Samoan sailors are in quarantine for 14 days at the Faleolo District Hospital amid fears they might be carrying China’s coronavirus.
Samoa’s also confirmed that six Chinese tourists were refused entry to Samoa for not meeting strict entry requirements implemented last Friday.
A Samoa government spokesperson told RNZ Pacific the Chinese arrived from Nadi Sunday night, but were turned back because they didn’t have the appropriate medical clearance.
The restrictions compel anyone who has been in China to “self-quarantine” in a country free from the coronavirus for 14 days.
They said Samoa was taking no chances after being ravaged by the measles epidemic which was most likely exported to Samoa from New Zealand.
Fiji’s information ministry said on return to Nadi, all six Chinese travellers were to have no fever. They are now in quarantine to be cleared to fly.
The ministry said all six were from Fujian province in China, and none had a history of travel to Wuhan or Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak started.
Meanwhile, Northern Marianas health authorities have quashed rumours that the coronavirus has reached the islands over the weekend.
Five patients were treated at the Commonwealth Health Centre on Friday exhibiting symptoms reminiscent of the new virus. They had recently travelled to an affected area. However, their illnesses have been confirmed to be the flu.
The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation said its preparedness staff at Saipan International Airport were working with Customs and Quarantine to screen incoming passengers.
The Marianas Visitors Authority said it still encouraged tourists from China to visit the CNMI despite the recent outbreak.
Air Niugini introduces restrictions on passengers from China Papua New Guinea’s national carrier has introduced restrictions on all PNG bound passengers originating in China due to the threat of the virus.
Air Niugini said those passengers would not be accepted for travel unless they had medical clearance issued by a certified institution in China.
The airline has instructed its offices in Hong Kong, Manila and Singapore about the restrictions, based on advise from PNG’s Health Department.
Passengers are encouraged by Air Niugini to use the quarantine services in these airports.