Otago Polytechnic

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Updated 25 February 2020 (10am)Coronavirus Diagram SML v2

The Government has extended the travel restrictions into New Zealand for some foreign travellers to assist with the containment of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  

On Monday25 February, the Government extended the travel restrictions for a further eight days – until Tuesday 3 March 2020.  

All travellers arriving in New Zealand from mainland China, or any travellers who have had exposure to a confirmed case of coronavirus will be expected to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time they leave mainland China or were exposed to the virus. This measure does not include Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR or Taiwan. 

New Zealand Citizens (including those from the three Countries of the Realm: Tokelau, Niue and the Cook Islands), permanent residents and their immediate family will still be able to enter New Zealand. Australian citizens and permanent residents are also allowed to enter if they ordinarily reside in New Zealand. However, if they have been present in, or transited through mainland China 14 days before departing for New Zealand, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the time they arrive in New Zealand. 

The travel restriction has been extended to include any person who was a passenger or crew on board the Diamond Princess Cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises, or any other notified cruise ship, within 14 days of disembarking from the cruise ship. 

The Government is reviewing the decision every 48 hours. 


For international students, Immigration New Zealand has announced an extension to the “first entry before” date on student visas for those unable to arrive in New Zealand due to travel restrictions.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is working with other government agencies to ensure a whole-of-government approach is being taken to manage this evolving situation.

INZ’s Beijing office remains temporarily closed.

There will be some impact on visa processing times as a result. However, INZ remains committed to minimising the impact on processing times as much as possible.

We understand visa applicants and current visa holders may have some questions about their specific circumstances. Please refer to the New Zealand Immigration website for more information. See the “Information for student visa holders” section.

Otago Polytechnic will continue to take a precautionary approach and follow advice from the Ministries of Health and Education.  


Important links  


Situation summary

In January 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed a new type of coronavirus, known as Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Confirmed cases of the virus have now been identified in China, Australia, USA, Canada, France, Germany and a number of other countries.  

  • No cases of the virus have yet been identified in New Zealand.
  • novel coronavirus is a notifiable disease. Therefore health practitioners and laboratories are required to notify Medical Officers of Health of cases of coronavrius.
  • The Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from the World Health Organization.
  • While the likelihood of an imported case in New Zealand is high, the likelihood of a widespread outbreak is low-moderate.



FAQs >

+ What do I need to know about novel coronavirus?   

+ What are the symptoms of novel coronavirus?  
Symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness similar to influenza (flu). This includes: 

  • Fever, and  
  • Respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. 

+ What can I do to protect myself?  

  • Wash hands thoroughly (at least 20 seconds) with soap and water, or a hand sanitiser. 
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue (rather than onto your hands), and then put the used tissue straight into the rubbish and wash your hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough. 
  • If you are unwell, stay away from class and remain at home. If you live in a hall of residence or flat, let your Resident Advisor or your flatmates know you are unwell.  
  • Currently there is no vaccine to protect against this outbreak of coronavirus.   


+ What should I do if I think I have the virus?  
If you have flu-like symptoms, you should:  

  • Call Healthline 0800 358 5453 to register your symptoms (for statistical reasons only).
  • Call your GP or Healthline for medical advice.
  • They may advise you to have a coronavirus test.      

Please do not attend in person – always call first. This will help to avoid the spread of illness.  

Our Student Health Centre in Dunedin is open. As with all medical centres, if you have flu-like symptoms, please call ahead (03) 479 6082 rather than attending in person.  

> Otago Polytechnic Student Health information     


+ Should students and staff with flu-like symptoms attend class/work?  
No, all respiratory illnesses are highly contagious and you should not attend class/work or socialise with other people until you have recovered.   

If you are concerned that your flu-like symptoms might be coronavirus, please stay at home and call Healthline 0800 611 116 or your GP.     

If you are a student, please advise a member of your Student Support team that you are unwell and will not be attending class:  

If you are a staff member, please advise your formal leader that you are unwell and will not be attending work.   


+ I have been approved for a student visa but am unable to arrive in New Zealand by the “first entry before” date on my visa due to travel restrictions. Do I need to apply for a new student visa in this situation?

If you are a student affected by the travel restrictions, and you hold a student visa with a “first entry before date”, INZ will automatically amend your visa conditions to allow you to travel for the duration of your visa. You will receive a reissued eVisa from INZ and you will not be charged for this.


+ What happens to my attendance records if I am in quarantine or self-isolating once I’ve arrived in New Zealand?

Immigration instructions require that you attend your programme of study at all times as required, unless there are genuine reasons for absence. If you are following New Zealand Ministry of Health guidelines for self-isolation contact your education provider urgently. If they agree, they will update your attendance record to clearly note that your absence is due to genuine circumstances. 


+ I have more questions about my specific circumstances. Who can I talk to?

Student visa holders or applicants who have more questions should contact INZ about their situation. Individuals who have specific questions about their study plans should contact their education provider. INZ will be providing education providers with more detailed information as the situation evolves. Visit here

If the travel ban affects you, please contact the Student Support team at your campus and let them know where you are and, if you are already in New Zealand, when you arrived and where you are now living: 

Auckland-based Student Support   

  • Phone 0800 111 212 (freephone within NZ)  
  • Phone + 64 21 02828711 (from overseas or within NZ)  
  • Email studentsuccessaic@op.ac.nz   

 Dunedin-based Student Support   

  • Phone 0800 762 786 (freephone within NZ)  
  • Phone +64 3 477 3014 (from overseas)  
  • Email studentsuccessdn@op.ac.nz   

 Central Otago-based Student Support   


+ What does self-isolation mean?  

Self-isolation means avoiding situations where you could infect other people. This means all situations where you may come in contact with others, such as social gatherings, work, school, child care/pre-school centres, university, faith-based gatherings, aged care and healthcare facilities, prisons, sports gatherings, supermarkets, restaurants, shopping malls and all public gatherings.   

If you are unsure if you should be self-isolating, please contact Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.


+ Will being in self-isolation affect my study?   

  • Please be assured we will work with any affected individuals closely to limit disruption so that you are not disadvantaged.    

+ What if I was going to be staying in a homestay?  
Don’t worry. Homestay providers will be told about this situation and will not be expecting you to arrive on your original date if you are a foreign national coming from, or transiting through, mainland China. We will contact you individually to discuss your situation.    


+ What if I was planning to travel to China?  

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have now updated their travel advisory to - do not travel to any part of mainland China. You can find more information on the Safe Travel NZ website. 
  • Otago Polytechnic does not sanction travelling to China for any purpose at this time  
  • If you were intending to travel to China, please check what this information means for you with your travel agent and travel insurance company. A number of airlines have suspended flights to and from China. We will support any students who would like assistance with this.  
  • We know some staff and students will have been planning to travel to China for study and work reasons. Otago Polytechnic will work with affected students and staff individually on a case-by-case basis to manage this.   
  • If you are a staff member and you have booked travel to China for work purposes, please contact our Business Services team for support: businessservices@op.ac.nz


+ Are there travel restrictions in place for other affected regions?  

If you are intending to travel overseas to somewhere other than China, please follow official advice from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Health and Safe Travel NZ.