Twelve evacuees from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise liner Japan were barred from boarding the Australia-assisted emergency flight home.

The evacuees - 10 Australians and two Kiwis - tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus just before they boarded the plane.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield, in an update on the deadly outbreak, said the New Zealanders were receiving medical care in Japan.

"We said from the outset that anyone who was either symptomatic of had tested positive for the virus would not be able to board the flight."


They were barred from taking the charted Qantas flight, which left Tokyo at 5am NZ time and touched down in Darwin just before 11.45am.

"They were all prepared to board the flight, they just had a positive test," Bloomfield said.

"So, I don't think they were heavily symptomatic. They hadn't presented with symptoms before they had the test."

Two passengers with coronavirus from the cruise ship have died, according to Japanese news reports.

The six remaining Kiwis evacuated from the coronavirus-stricken cruise liner in Japan are now on their flight to Auckland.

Around 170 evacuees are aboard the evacuation flight, Bloomfield said. None of them had shown any symptoms of the deadly respiratory virus.

Bloomfield reiterated there were no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand.

"Our priorities for today are to see the safe return of the six New Zealanders who were on the Diamond Princess and are currently on their way back from Darwin."


MFAT said during final medical checks, two of those passengers tested positive for Covid-19 and did not travel on the flight.

They are being treated in hospital in Japan and Mfat consular staff remain in contact with them.

The remaining six passengers departed Darwin at 2pm, before being transferred to a New Zealand Government-chartered flight - a 13-seat Bombardier Global Express Aircraft - scheduled to land at Whenuapai at about 8pm.

All passengers were virus tested by the Australian Medical Assistance Team twice on the flight to Darwin, and again on the ground in Darwin, and all were cleared, MFAT said.

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A St Johns paramedic will join the charter flight to Auckland and a doctor will also be on board.

The pair will not be required to observe a quarantine after the flight, Bloomfield said.

"They've been taking full precautions, including the use of personal protective equipment."

Upon arrival at Whenuapai, passengers will be transferred to Whangaparaoa to begin their 14 -day quarantine.

"If anyone is symptomatic or develops symptoms during the flight, they will be taken to hospital and treated appropriately, including any testing that may be warranted."

Two New Zealand passengers leaving the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. Photo / AP
Two New Zealand passengers leaving the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. Photo / AP

Between February 3 to and February 18, 8,260 people had arrived back in New Zealand who were directly from China, or who had been in China in the past 14 days, Bloomfield said.

"Around 3600 of those people will now have completed self isolation and will be resuming their normal lives."

Healthline was continuing to follow up with those who haven't registered after recent travel in China and Bloomfield urged anyone who hadn't registered to call 0800 358 5453.

"The register is not there to police people," he said.

"As far as I know, we're the only country that is doing this and it is so that we can keep track of people's wellbeing and welfare and refer those people for support if they need it."

Earlier, two other New Zealand passengers had contracted the virus and are also being treated in hospital in Japan.

It was reported yesterday that another 88 people on the ship had tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of those infected to 542.

There were originally 3700 people on board the ship when it docked in Yokohama on February 4.

Japanese health officials said 65 of those who had been recently confirmed as infected were not showing any symptoms.

Locals welcome evacuees from Wuhan to the Whangaparāoa quarantine area. Photo / Chris Tarpey
Locals welcome evacuees from Wuhan to the Whangaparāoa quarantine area. Photo / Chris Tarpey

The 14-day quarantine period for the ship ends today, and passengers have been told if they test negative they will be able to leave.

Many countries have already made arrangements to take their citizens home. On Monday the US evacuated 330 Americans who had been on board the ship, while 11 New Zealanders remained on board.

They were been offered the opportunity to be evacuated by Australia, with eight of them taking up the offer - although two tested positive this morning.

Two of the remaining Kiwis on board have chosen to stay offshore for another 14 days before returning to New Zealand, while the third is an overseas resident, according to a spokesman from the office of Minister of Health David Clark.

The New Zealand passengers have been asked to contribute a fee of $500 to cover the costs of the assisted departure.