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Government needs to brings Kiwis home

Simon Bridges - Leader of the Opposition

28 January 2019

The Government needs to stop sitting on its hands and bring home the New Zealanders stranded in Wuhan, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“A responsible Government would be looking after its people. Countries around the world are evacuating their citizens and putting them in quarantine for 14 days.

“We have a desperate family telling the media they fear they’ll die of the virus or die of starvation. The Government needs to act to protect them.

“The New Zealand Embassy in Beijing and the Consulate-General in Shanghai and Guangzhou have been closed for Chinese New Year, The Government should have told its officials to come back from holiday to deal with New Zealanders in China who need help.

“The Prime Minister has been nowhere to be seen while this situation unfolds and Health Minister David Clark yesterday fobbed it off to officials to answer questions. New Zealanders need assurance during this outbreak.

“Our MPs have been inundated with questions from the public about the coronavirus and what will happen if it reaches New Zealand. Schools are trying to get prepared, as well as tour operators and accommodation providers in case the worst should happen.

“National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse has written to Health Minister David Clark asking for a briefing from officials so we can share information and assurances.

“My colleague Nikki Kaye has also written to the Education Minister about what support is in place for schools, early learning centres and tertiary institutions.

“Tens of thousands of international students will be arriving in New Zealand to study over the coming weeks, some of them from places which have been affected by the outbreak.

“There needs to be clear advice for host families, parents, schools and teachers about what they should do if an outbreak were to occur.

“We sought urgent advice from the Education Minister on Sunday but we’re yet to get a response. Some schools started back yesterday and more will be starting today and later this week. It’s time the Government gave clear advice about will happen if this virus reaches New Zealand.”

“The Government is missing in action while the rest of the world is taking this seriously. It’s time for action.”

ends

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