Coronavirus outbreak: Second Kiwi tested positive on cruise ship off Japan

A second Kiwi has tested positive for coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked off Japan.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) has confirmed another New Zealander has contracted the illness that has spread from China's Wuhan city across the globe. MFAT told Newshub the individual is currently in hospital receiving treatment.

The person is the second Kiwi on the ship to test positive for the illness.

Eleven Kiwis are confirmed to still be on the cruise ship which is docked off Yokohama, with the two infected off the ship.

The ship is hosting 2666 guests and 1045 crew members. Those not testing positive for the illness have been isolated to their cabins. They won't be allowed to disembark until February 19 at the earliest.

At least 21 of the sick are Japanese citizens, while others are Australians, Canadians and British.

One of the passengers, David Abel, was celebrating his anniversary on the boat and has been documenting his experience in quarantine. He said on Thursday there had been no health checks in at least three days and didn't know if there were still people on the ship with symptoms.

He posted on Facebook that passengers with inside cabins are now allowed to walk on the deck for 1.5 hours under the supervision of the quarantine officers.

"They must stay 1 metre apart from one another and not make contact or congregate in groups," he wrote. 

Passengers on the ship came under the spotlight of medical authorities after a man who left the cruise liner on January 25 in Hong Kong was found to be infected.

On Saturday, Royal Carribean Cruises banned anyone who held a Chinese, Hong Kong, or Macau passport from boarding their ships in an attempt to limit the spread of the illness.

Countries such as Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Thailand and Canada have confirmed cases of the sickness. At least 720 people have died from coronavirus worldwide, with the vast majority of the 34,000 cases detected in China.

There have been no confirmed cases in New Zealand - which has banned individuals coming to Aotearoa from China if they are not citizens or permanent residents. On Wednesday, Kiwis were evacuated from Wuhan on an Air New Zealand flight. They are currently in isolation at the Whangaparaoa Military Camp

It's believed the illness originated in bats and could have spread to humans via pangolins. Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in China. 

The WHO was first informed of cases of the virus in Wuhan on December 31. It was identified as a coronavirus on January 7 and can spread through human-to-human transmission. There is little known about it but has revived fears of the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003 which killed almost 800 people.

"Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death," WHO says.

"Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing."

There is currently no vaccine for the sickness.