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Nearly 130, Including Australians, On Antarctic Cruise Ship Have Coronavirus

The Australian operator of an Antarctica cruise ship says 128 of the 217 passengers on the Greg Mortimer -- many of them Australian -- have tested positive for coronavirus.

"There are currently no fevers on board and all are asymptomatic," Aurora Expeditions, the operator of the Greg Mortimer ship working to disembark the crew and passengers and arrange flights to their home countries, said.

National

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The Greg Mortimer departed on March 15 for a voyage to Antarctica and South Georgia titled 'In Shackleton's Footsteps', a reference to the polar explorer who led British expeditions to the region and died there in 1922.

Of the 217 people tested on the vessel, 128 tested positive for coronavirus and 89 tested negative, Aurora Expeditions said.

Another six people who were evacuated from the ship are in stable condition and being treated in Montevideo. The ship is currently off the coast of Uruguay.

Dr Sebastian Yancev helped diagnose and treat passengers on the Greg Mortimer cruise ship. Image: AAP

The people on the ship are calm but eager to go home, Marcelo Girard, a doctor at an Uruguayan medical facility where two people from the Greg Mortimer are being treated, said.

Australian passengers, and possibly those from New Zealand, are likely to fly home on Thursday or Friday on an Airbus 340 that has been refitted -- with people who have the virus and those who do not travelling in separate cabin areas, according to Aurora Expeditions

The cost per passenger is about AU $15,025, and the cruise ship operator has asked the Australian government for help with expenses.

The Australian Greg Mortimer cruise ship lies at anchor surrounded by two cargo ships off the port of Montevideo, Uruguay Image: AAP

The plan would require the passengers to undergo a 14-day quarantine on arrival at a facility in Melbourne, the company said.

US and European passengers who tested negative will hopefully be able to depart later in the week, following a second test and permission from the Uruguayan government.

Those who tested positive must wait until they test negative before flying home.