20 Feb 2020

NZers fly home after Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantine

From Checkpoint, 5:06 pm on 20 February 2020

Two passengers with coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship have died.

Media reports from Japan say the man and woman were both aged in their 80s.

New Zealand's Director General of Health has told Checkpoint they are not New Zealanders.

They are the first deaths from the plagued cruise ship, which has had the largest cluster of virus cases outside mainland China.

Six New Zealanders returning from the Diamond Princess are due into Whenuapai at about 8pm.

They are travelling on a 13-seater plane from Darwin after a Qantas jumbo jet flight to Darwin with about 170 Australian evacuees.

NZ Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told journalists they have been tested several times on their journey. They are travelling with a doctor and a St John Paramedic.

Dr Bloomfield said the two New Zealanders who were not able to board the plane in Tokyo because they had tested positive are being cared for in Japan. They did not know they had the virus until they were tested.

The returning group will now spend two weeks in quarantine at Whangaparaoa. Dr Bloomfield said it is vital New Zealand stays free of the virus for as long as possible.