Full-blown outbreak on virus ship
Another 70 people have been infected with coronavirus on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship, Japanese officials have confirmed.
The latest figures bring the total number of coronavirus cases on the virus-struck ship to 356.
The Diamond Princess has been under lockdown off the coast of Yokohama for more than two weeks with around 3700 passengers and crew on-board, including about 200 Australians.
Australians are among 16 confirmed cases on the ship. Those who tested positive for the virus are being treated in Japan.
The 70 new cases come from 289 new tests. Of those cases, 38 people showed no symptoms.
The update comes as comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison considers plans to evacuate Australians from the ship later this week.
Americans on-board the Diamond Princess were being flown to the US on chartered planes from yesterday, while authorities in Canada, South Korea, Hong Kong and Italy have announced flights home for their citizens.
Mr Morrison and cabinet are waiting for an Australian infectious disease expert's assessment of the situation on-board the ship, The Australian reported.
The Australians on-board must pass a coronavirus test before they can be brought home, and elderly people will be given priority in the evacuation.
A plan to fly the evacuees to Darwin to join quarantine facilities where 266 others flown from Wuhan are already staying is understood to be in place, according to News Corp.
Meanwhile, more than 200 Australians who were also evacuated from Hubei province in China and who have been quarantined on Christmas Island for two weeks are due to head home today.
The Department of Home Affairs says the Australian Border Force is making arrangements to transfer them once they have been medically cleared.
None of those on Christmas Island or at the facility near Darwin have tested positive to the COVID-19 virus.
The preparations come as NSW Health said passengers arriving into Sydney on some cruise ships would be assessed by experts as a precautionary measure.
A risk assessment will be completed for each cruise ship arriving into the harbour city before it berths and then a decision will be made by health authorities whether to disembark passengers.
Of the 15 coronavirus cases in Australia, six have been cleared and the remaining nine are all stable.
In China, the total number of people infected by the virus has risen to more than 68,500, with the number of deaths now at 1665.