Coronavirus: Te Papa advises some guests consider self-isolating after passengers from COVID-19-hit cruise ship visit

New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, is asking guests who visited last Saturday to consider self-isolating after passengers of a virus-hit cruise ship toured the establishment.

Te Papa says anyone who was on the 'Introducing Te Papa tour' at 10:15am or 11am on Saturday March 14, or was within one metre of any visitor for more than 15 minutes that day to seek advice and consider self-isolating until March 29.

It comes after the museum received advice from the Ministry of Health about the Ruby Princess cruise ship, an Australia vessel which has had three Australian passengers and a crew member test positive for COVID-19. There were 56 New Zealanders on the ship, which visited Wellington amongst other Kiwi destinations.

Passengers from the ship visited the museum on March 14, with some freely roaming the museum and others partaking in a number of tours exclusively for them. However, a number were also likely on the two Saturday morning tours with other visitors. 

As well as giving advice to visitors who may have come into contact with passengers of the ship, Te Papa is also requiring all tour guides from that day to self-isolate. Any other staff who may have been within a metre of a visitor for 15 minutes or more will also do so.

Chief executive Courtney Johnson said the museum would do everything possible to alert visitors to the information.

"We will do everything we can to support people, and get them all the information and help they need," she said.

"Te Papa hosts and tour guides love our visitors and they love sharing Te Papa with the world, it is really tough to realise that in doing their job, they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

"We will make sure that staff who could be at risk strictly follow the advice of health authorities, to protect their own health, their whānau, and the community

On Friday, the museum announced it would close temporarily, with a review of the situation in two weeks. That decision came after Health Minister Dr David Clark announced indoor gatherings of more than 100 people would not be allowed to go ahead. 

The Te Papa office will also close for a week. No staff will have their employment status affected.

The Ministry of Health is currently trying to contact the 56 Kiwis who were on board the ship, which docked in Sydney on March 18. Twenty-eight have returned to the country and will have to self-isolate for 14 days. They are considered close contacts and will be followed up on daily.