NEWS
21/02/2020 5:42 PM AEDT | Updated 21/02/2020 5:44 PM AEDT

Two Australian Evacuees from Japan Cruise Ship Have Coronavirus

Comes after 170 citizens arrived in Australia after being confined to their cabins since February.

SYDNEY, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Two Australians evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for coronavirus after returning to their home country, Australia’s health department said on Friday.

Australia on Thursday evacuated 170 citizens from the Diamond Princess, owned by Carnival Corp, who had been confined to their cabins since February 3 when the vessel was quarantined at Yokohama, south of the capital, Tokyo.

After arriving in Australia’s tropical north where they will spend the next 14 days in quarantine, all passengers were screened and those complaining of being unwell were tested for coronavirus.

“Six people were identified as having minor respiratory symptoms and, or fever,” the Australian Health Department said in an emailed statement.

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

Tomohiro Ohsumi via Getty Images
A worker wearing a protective suit stands next to a bus carrying passengers, who boarded the Qantas aircraft chartered by the Australian government, from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship drive at Haneda airport on February 19, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. 

Di Stephens, a health official in the Northern Territory, declined to identify the Australians, but said both will be relocated to hospitals near their homes.

“Those people remain well and mildly ill with cold-like symptoms and they do not necessarily need to be in the hospital system, but more than likely will enter the hospital system in their home states,” Stephens told reporters in Darwin.

Australia now has 17 cases of coronavirus, though several dozens citizens remain on the Diamond Princess in Japan after contracting the disease while on the cruise ship.

Australia had not had a case of coronavirus since February 1when it barred entry to those arriving directly from mainlandChina.

The ban was extended on Thursday until at least February 29.

Reporting by Colin Packham