Te Papa is warning people who visited the museum the same day as passengers from the Ruby Princess cruise ship that they might need to self-isolate.

Three Australian Ruby Princess passengers and a crew member were yesterday - days after the ship visited New Zealand - confirmed to have Covid-19, the potentially-deadly virus which has killed more than 10,000 worldwide and caused global disruption.

People who visited the Wellington-based museum on Saturday last week - when people from the cruise ship also visited - should consider self-isolating, Te Papa chief executive Courtney Johnston said.

The advice was for the following:

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• If you were on the "Introducing Te Papa tour" at 10.15am or 11am on Saturday March 14, you need to seek advice and consider self-isolating until March 29.

• If you were within one metre of a Te Papa visitor for 15 minutes or more on Saturday, March 14, you need to seek advice and consider self-isolating until March 29.

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The advice followed "new direct advice to Te Papa from the Ministry of Health about the Ruby Princess cruise ship", Johnston said.

"Passengers from the Ruby Princess visited Te Papa on Saturday 14 March. There were a number of tours exclusively for Ruby Princess passengers, and two tours which likely included a mix of Ruby Princess passengers and other visitors.

"Additional Ruby Princess passengers came to the museum as visitors but didn't take a guided tour."

As well as advising visitors, Te Papa was requiring staff who were within a metre of a Te Papa visitor for 15 minutes or more on Saturday March 14 to self-isolate until March 29.

This would include all tour guides working on March 14.

The world is in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic. Graphic / Phil Welch
The world is in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic. Graphic / Phil Welch

Te Papa would do everything it could to get information and support to visitors and staff, Johnston said.

"We will do everything we can to support people, and get them all the information and help they need.

"Te Papa hosts and tour guides love our visitors and they love sharing Te Papa with the world, it is really tough to realise that in doing their job, they may have been exposed to Covid-19."

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They would make sure staff who could be at risk strictly followed the advice of health authorities, to protect their own health and that of others, Johnston said.

The national museum had already closed its doors to the public, doing so yesterday to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

Te Papa was also closing its offices to staff for a week, and asking some staff to self-isolate, in response to new guidance from government about social distancing, she said.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

This would give the museum time to bring in social distancing or working from home options for staff. This would not affect the employment status of any Te Papa staff.

Te Papa staff were already drawing on their close connections as te whānau o Te Papa, Te Papa Kaihautū and co-leader Dr Arapata Hakiwai said.

"We have a real whānau feeling among our people at Te Papa, and the aroha of all of team Te Papa will be with those who need to self-isolate, among our staff or among our manuhiri.

"This is a time when all of Aotearoa and the world is grappling with new challenges, and we are very grateful to our team for the way they are pulling together, following all the precautions, and doing what needs to be done."