As each day brings fresh news of the concerning situation globally in regards to the coronavirus outbreak, it is
understandable that our community should consider what this means. It is absolutely critical that our community
understands that the single source of truth in relation to what to do, how to respond and how to seek help comes from
the Ministry of Health. Just like the community and our business sector Council is taking its lead from the health
sector. This is a time for cool heads and pragmatism.
If you have any concerns there is a health line that is free (0800 611 116) and there is detailed information, including
advice for travellers or guests on the Ministry of Health’s website https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov
I can confirm and reassure the community that I am advised that all relevant agencies are holding a watching brief and
that readiness response plans are in place for the Southern District Health Board and Queenstown Airport. If required,
Council will support these agencies through the emergency management framework. While I am aware there are now three
suspected cases in Rotorua, and there may likely be more, I believe we are some way off the emergency management
scenario. Locally we are constantly monitoring the issue and will act as and when the need arises.
I think we can all understand heightened levels of concern. This is a good time to put some of that energy into thinking
about our own personal and household resilience and hygiene. Again, the Ministry has advice and our own website has
plenty of standard advice about creating a resilient home, including having adequate water and food in reserve.
Finally, I have been advised of some anti-visitor sentiment as a result of this issue. It is understandable to have
concern about this unfolding health issue but it will never be acceptable to descend to racism and xenophobia. We must
all unite to demonstrate zero tolerance in regard to any such behaviour and to stand up and call it out. In this country
such behaviour is a criminal offence.
While China has now acted to restrict visitor departures, many tourists are already in New Zealand or on their way. This
is a time to show a bit of humanity and kindness to our visitors who will no doubt be concerned for their fellow
citizens, family, friends and neighbours. I can only assume that our visitors will have an acute awareness about this
issue but at present just like any other global citizen, they have chosen to visit our amazing destination and we need
to continue to make sure they feel welcome and supported.