On last Friday 20 March, the Confucius Institute in Auckland convened an online ZOOM meeting with our 44 Mandarin Language Assistants stuck in China because of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

All our MLAs, including three in the epicentre Hubei Province, are safe and healthy after a over two-month self isolation. So are their families.

However, while the battle to contain COVID-19 in China has passed the turning point and is close to an end, the global infection rate has been accelerating wildly. More confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in New Zealand in past weeks. Currently, New Zealand has just moved up to alert Level 3, up to Level 4 in 48 hours, with borders closed to all non-NZ citizens.

Considering the above developments, we have had to announce the suspension of the MLA programme 2020. We will work closely with Confucius Institute Headquarters to help the MLAs back to their normal lives and keep them informed with any further updates.

For our network schools in New Zealand, the absence of the Mandarin Language Assistants will have impacts on their current Chinese language programme. We all agree, however, that the health and safety of both our New Zealand students and MLAs are the highest priority at all times.

The MLA programme will restart as soon as the pandemic is over. We hope it will be soon.