21 Feb 2020

Coronavirus cases confirmed among Australian Diamond Princess evacuees in Darwin

2:34 pm on 21 February 2020

Australian authorities say two people evacuated to Darwin from the Diamond Princess cruise ship yesterday have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship at Yokohama port on 6 February.

Two Australians Photo: AFP / Yomiuri

Six people were isolated after presenting minor symptoms on arrival at Darwin airport yesterday morning.

The 164 people from the cruise ship will spend two weeks in quarantine at the Howard Springs quarantine centre.

Six New Zealanders were also on board that evacuation flight, and are currently in quaratine at Whangaparaoa air base.

The Ministry of Health said there were no confirmed cases in New Zealand.

The New Zealanders who arrived back home from Diamond Princess are being kept in isolation and are not displaying any signs of the virus.

The Australian government's chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, says authorities were prepared for positive coronavirus cases from the evacuated cohort.

"Given there was continued evidence of spread of infection on board the Diamond Princess in recent days, the development of some positive cases after return to Australia is not unexpected, despite all of the health screening before departure," he said in a statement.

Murphy said both infected Australians "remained well" and were being quarantined in a separate isolation unit.

A medical evacuation to the home states of both patients and their families is currently being organised by health authorities.

A plane from Tokyo carrying Australian evacuees who had been stranded on the coronavirus-riddled ship arrived in Darwin yesterday morning, just hours before Japanese public broadcaster NHK announced two passengers who had been aboard the cruise ship had died.

"All passengers were health screened before being allowed to leave the ship, none had positive tests or any symptoms of disease," Professor Murphy said.

"They were monitored throughout the flight, screened again at the RAAF Base in Darwin and again on arrival at [Howard Springs].

"Six people were identified as having minor respiratory symptoms and/or fever. They were immediately separated from others at the airport and went directly into isolation at the village.

"Two of those people have since tested positive for COVID-19 infection."

As of Thursday, more than 612 passengers were infected on the ship, including 46 Australians.


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