Horrifying photographs have emerged of what appears to be a dead body being stretchered off a cruise liner carrying thousands of passengers, including Australians.

It comes as cruise giant Royal Caribbean announced a ban on Chinese, Hong Kong and Macao passports holders.

The World Dream spent its fourth night docked off Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong, where it is being held after eight former passengers tested positive for the coronavirus. There are believed to be up to 3,600 people on board.

Images of a dead body being stretchered off a cruise liner. Photo / via Twitter
Images of a dead body being stretchered off a cruise liner. Photo / via Twitter

It is one of four cruise ships — carrying at least 11,000 crew and passengers collectively — grounded after the deadly virus was detected on board.

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A second, the MS Westerdam, remains in limbo at sea after Japan became the fourth country to turn it away despite operator Holland America's insistence none of the 2,200 crew and passengers are infected.

Two Australians, David and Judy Holst from Adelaide, are among those on board the ship.

Earlier, the Westerdam was rejected by authorities in Taiwan, the Philippines and the US territory of Guam, the NY Post reported.

A passenger shows a note from the World Dream cruise ship docked at Kai Tak cruise terminal in Hong Kong. Photo / AP
A passenger shows a note from the World Dream cruise ship docked at Kai Tak cruise terminal in Hong Kong. Photo / AP

"My wife and I were at dinner and I said, 'The boat's slowed down'," Mr Holst told ABC Radio Adelaide.

"It obviously was and then a little while later an announcement came over the PA saying Manila has denied us entry."

The decision from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte came after the country recorded the first coronavirus death outside China.

Holland America is now scrambling to come up with alternative plans while it remains anchored off Okinawa.

The other two stranded cruise ships are the Diamond Princess in Japan and the Anthem of the Seas in New Jersey.

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On Friday the number of confirmed coronavirus cases on the Diamond Princess rose to 61 — including at least five Australians — in what is the biggest known cluster outside China.

Japanese authorities are refusing to allow anyone to disembark and 3700 on board must remain in isolation for 14 days while those showing symptoms are tested.

On Friday, photographs emerged on social media appearing to show Hong Kong paramedics, dressed head to toe in protective gear, loading a body completely sealed in plastic into an ambulance parked alongside the World Dream.

A masked passenger stands on the balcony of cruise ship Diamond Princess. Photo / AP
A masked passenger stands on the balcony of cruise ship Diamond Princess. Photo / AP

The vessel was being held as a precautionary measure after eight former passengers who took a cruise from January 19 to 24 to Vietnam were found to have tested positive for the coronavirus, the ship's operator Dream Cruises said in a statement.

The journey began with more than 4,000 passengers on board and disembarked at two stops — Nansha in southern China and Hong Kong — on January 24 after leaving Vietnam, Hong Kong Health Department authorities said on Wednesday.

Dream Cruises said it was attempting to contact scores of passengers who disembarked before the ship was grounded.

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"(We need to) inform them of the situation and to remind them to seek professional medical assistance at their local Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or health authorities should any symptoms arise or if they have any questions," the company said in a statement.

The crew from that voyage, however, stayed on and the World Dream then picked up a different set of passengers before arriving in Hong Kong on Wednesday morning, Hong Kong authorities said.

Passengers await transportation after disembarking from the cruise ship Anthem of the Seas. Photo / AP
Passengers await transportation after disembarking from the cruise ship Anthem of the Seas. Photo / AP

They said there were currently more than 1800 crew and 1800 passengers on board.

According to local health authorities, 30 crew members reported feeling sick, but all are in stable condition. Three who reported fevers are in isolation in a Hong Kong hospital for further testing.

Meanwhile dozens of people have been tested for the coronavirus on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas, which is currently docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, about 20km from New York City.

Personnel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boarded the ship to test 27 passengers "who recently travelled from mainland China," New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said on Friday.

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"After being assessed by the CDC, 23 of those passengers were cleared and four individuals are being evaluated at an area hospital," he said.

Royal Caribbean said today none of the four had tested positive for the coronavirus and health authorities had cleared the ship to sail. However departure had been delayed until tomorrow to "reassure our guests".

"You may have seen news about Anthem today and may be wondering about our guests and upcoming cruise," the company said in a tweet.

"None of the four guests being tested by CDC showed any clinical signs and symptoms of coronavirus. One tested positive onboard for influenza A."

On Friday, a Diamond Princess employee expressed concern crew responsible for preparing food and cleaning rooms have not been properly tested for the disease.

A Sydney man who works on the ship told news.com.au that people on board were informed on February 3 that a past guest had been diagnosed with the virus but the ship wasn't put on lockdown until the following day.

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He said everyone has been totally confined to their rooms, apart from the crew who eat together in the mess hall.

"This is part of the problem, as far as I know the crew have not been properly tested. Just a temperature check three days ago," he said.

"This is the same crew that prepare all the food and clean all the cabins so I'm finding it hard to trust the food we're served."

He said one of the most unnerving things about the situation is how quiet the ship is.

"I've been on ships a few times and it's always busting with people. There are no sounds from outside my cabin, it's eerie," he said.

Another 41 people on board a cruise ship off Japan's coast have tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus, Japan's health minister said on Friday.

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Masked passengers are seen on the deck of the cruise ship Diamond Princess. Photo / AP
Masked passengers are seen on the deck of the cruise ship Diamond Princess. Photo / AP

The new cases raise the number of confirmed infections on board the ship to at least 61, said Katsunobu Kato.

Japanese authorities have tested 273 people on board the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined after a former passenger, who disembarked in Hong Kong last month, tested positive for the virus.

"The results of the remaining 171 tests came out and 41 tested positive," Kato told reporters.

"Today they will be sent to hospitals in several prefectures, and we are now preparing for that." "In total, out of 273 specimens, 61 tested positive," he added.

There are more than 3700 passengers and crew on the ship, which has been off Japan's coast since Monday evening.

The ABC is reporting that five Australians are among the 41 new cases. A total of seven Australian passengers are now known to have contracted the virus.

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Three of the 41 new patients are relatively young, aged between 20 and 40, while the remaining 38 are between 50 and 80 years old, and most are in their 70s.

The worker told news.com.au that he first found out about the number of people that had been diagnosed by reading the news.

The cruise ship Diamond Princess is anchored at the Yokohama Port in Yokohama. Photo / AP
The cruise ship Diamond Princess is anchored at the Yokohama Port in Yokohama. Photo / AP

"To me it feels like this quarantine is a mess and we're all in a dangerous situation, I feel for the elderly and young children on board who must be really, really worried," he said.

"They are removing more confirmed coronavirus cases each day and I feel like it could continue.

"The ship is compromised, I understand the importance of quarantine but I think we should all do it somewhere safe. The concern is that we're going to be left here until all 3700 of us are sick."

It docked in Yokohama on Thursday to resupply for a quarantine that could last until February 19.

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Twenty people who were earlier diagnosed with the virus have already been removed from the vessel and taken to hospitals.