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Government dragging heels on coronavirus

The Government’s slow response to the coronavirus outbreak is putting New Zealanders at risk and failing to provide confidence to businesses already struggling in a slowing economy, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“While our major international partners are acting decisively to address the coronavirus outbreak, the Government is dragging its heels and delaying making the key decisions which are needed to give reassurance to Kiwis and businesses.

“New Zealand waited almost a week after the UK, Australia and the US to start flight screening and was days behind those countries in updating our Safetravel advice to advise Kiwis against travel to China.

“As it becomes clear the coronavirus outbreak will drag on for months, it’s important businesses get clear support and guidance from the Government as exports and tourism suffers. New Zealand is especially vulnerable given our reliance on China as a major trading partner so the Government needs to start leading on issues, not just waiting around to see what the rest of the world does.

“Westpac estimated on Monday that if New Zealand's current travel ban persists for two months, it will shrink the economy by 0.04 per cent for first quarter of the year. Businesses need to have confidence the Government will take the decision to end the ban when the evidence supports it, not waiting for days after the rest of the world.

“National would be leaders, not followers, in dealing with major outbreaks.”

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