Coronavirus: New Zealanders 'strongly encouraged' to return on evacuation flight from cruise ship

The Minister of Health believes it's "unlikely" people who don't return on an evacuation flight from the Diamond Princess cruise will be able to arrive in New Zealand in the coming weeks.

Health Minister Dr David Clark says they "strongly encourage" all Kiwis on board the coronavirus-infected ship to take the charter flight being offered by the Australian government.

Any that don't return to New Zealand will "find it difficult to do so for the next two weeks".

"We have advised all passengers that it is unlikely they will be able to travel by commercial flight for two weeks after leaving the ship," he says.

There are 11 New Zealanders on the cruise ship. A further two are in hospital in Japan because they have COVID-19. These two will not be returning on the flight.

One family member has chosen to stay with the two people in hospital and arrangements will be made for their return when it is "appropriate".

Dr Clark says the final number of people returning on the evacuation flight will be confirmed on Tuesday evening.

The flight being offered by the Australian government will evacuate more than 200 Australians on board - as well as any Kiwis - and take them to Darwin on Wednesday, according to ABC. From there, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs will organise a flight to Aotearoa.

The New Zealanders who do return will be quarantined at the Whangaparaoa military camp that is currently housing 157 people who were evacuated from Wuhan.

The quarantine period for people in Whangaparaoa ends on February 19, and Dr Clark says their isolation has gone well.

"If [they are] still well, [they] will be able to go home. We've been very pleased with the way the Whangaparaoa facility has worked in terms of the isolation for these people."

There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

A total of 1873 people have died globally from the virus, and there are a total of 73,433 cases, according to the South China Morning Post.