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Infected Antarctic cruise passengers return to Australia

More than half of the 217 passengers of the Greg Mortimer Antarctic cruise ship are infected with coronavirus.

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The Greg Mortimer cruise ship, carrying some passengers infected with the new coronavirus, in port in Montevideo, Uruguay, (Matilde Campodonico/AP)

The Greg Mortimer cruise ship, carrying some passengers infected with the new coronavirus, in port in Montevideo, Uruguay, (Matilde Campodonico/AP)

The Greg Mortimer cruise ship, carrying some passengers infected with the new coronavirus, in port in Montevideo, Uruguay, (Matilde Campodonico/AP)

More than 100 Australian and New Zealand cruise ship passengers, most of whom are infected with coronavirus, have landed in Melbourne after spending the last two weeks stranded in Uruguay.

A plane carrying 112 passengers from the Antarctic cruise ship Greg Mortimer touched down early on Sunday and was immediately boarded by medical staff in hazmat suits.

The flight was made up of 96 Australians and 16 New Zealanders- 13 of which were transferred to a charter flight home.

The operator of the Greg Mortimer, Aurora Expeditions, confirmed during the week that 128 of its 217 passengers have tested positive for Covid-19.

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Global coronavirus cases and deaths. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic PA Graphics

Global coronavirus cases and deaths. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic PA Graphics

Press Association Images

Global coronavirus cases and deaths. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic PA Graphics

Uruguay foreign minister Ernesto Talvi said two Australian passengers remain in intensive care in a Montevideo hospital.

The ship was stranded in Uruguay for more than two weeks after leaving Argentina on March 15 for a 16-day return trip to Antarctica.

“Everybody who needs to go to hospital will go to hospital and the remaining passengers will go into quarantine in hotels,” said Victoria state Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen.

The returning New Zealanders will also be quarantined in hotels.

“As a large proportion of passengers on the Greg Mortimer have tested positive for Covid-19, all passengers are being treated as though they are Covid-positive as a precautionary measure,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said.

PA