A group of New Zealanders who have been stranded on a cruise ship in Uruguay are finally making their way home.
Sixteen New Zealanders and 96 Australians are on board the Antarctic cruise ship the Greg Mortimer, which has been anchored in the La Plata River near Montevideo since late last month.
The ship will dock at the local port shortly. The passengers, most of whom have tested positive for Covid-19, will then be bussed to an airport terminal with strict health controls.
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They will board a charter flight to Melbourne this evening arranged by the cruise company Aurora Expeditions. Thirteen of the New Zealanders will immediately transfer in Melbourne to a New Zealand Government-chartered flight to Auckland.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the flight was expected to land in Auckland tomorrowand passengers would go into quarantine or managed isolation.
The spokesman would not say how many of the New Zealanders had tested positive for Covid-19 on the ship.
"As a large proportion of passengers on the Greg Mortimer have tested positive for Covid-19, all passengers are being treated as though they are Covid-positive as a precautionary measure."
Out of 217 passengers, crew and staff on the Greg Mortimer, 128 have tested positive for Covid-19.
Among the passengers were a Tauranga couple, Tina and Graham, who have spent most of the past month in a 4m by 9m cabin with a small balcony.
Tina has tested positive for Covid-19, and while Graham did not get a positive test, health officials believed he probably had the virus and recovered before testing began.
"Apart from being tired at one stage, I haven't felt anything," Graham said.
"It's not scary because neither of us have experienced the symptoms," Tina said.
"It's quite amazing."
The couple had planned a three-week voyage to Antarctica and South Georgia but that was cut short by fever on board and trouble finding somewhere to anchor last month.
They left New Zealand on March 11 and their cruise left Argentina on March 15.
They were told of the first fever on board on March 22 and have not been able to leave their cabins and balconies since.
"All we want is to get home," Tina said earlier this week.