To our friends in Wuhan,
It is with shock and sadness that we have followed the spread of coronavirus from Wuhan through Hubei province and across China. Now that the death toll has passed 400, we also share the sorrow of those who have lost loved ones.
We know New Zealanders in Wuhan are anxious to return home. Air New Zealand charter flight is evacuating New Zealanders from Wuhan and arriving in Auckland this afternoon. Following NZ’s travel ban for foreign nationals travelling from China, Air New Zealand has also suspended their Auckland-Shanghai service for the next two months.
In reducing contacts between New Zealand and China, we of course hope to protect New Zealanders against the risk of possible infection. However, we need to make sure that we do not also run the risk of damaging the important cultural and economic links that connect us.
New Zealanders have already experienced some of the negative effects of trade barriers in the global economy. Despite the announcement of a much publicised ‘phase one’ of an economic and trade agreement between the United States and China, trade tensions that have built between these two countries over recent years may take just as long to ease.
While we minimise the risk of infection via air flights between New Zealand and China, we must work to maintain open and friendly relations. We must also look for ways to express our understanding and concern as China battles with health challenges posed by the spread of coronavirus among its people.
Chairperson of NZCCC