April 7, 2020 / 9:06 PM / 2 months ago

Uruguay to repatriate 112 Australians, New Zealanders from coronavirus-hit cruise ship

MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Uruguay said on Tuesday it has agreed to repatriate 112 Australians and New Zealanders from a cruise ship that has been stranded in the La Plata River near Montevideo since March 27, with most of the 219 passengers infected by coronavirus.

A spokesman for Uruguay’s Foreign Ministry said the ministry reached agreement with Australia for a charter flight to arrive on Thursday to take the 96 Australian passengers and 16 New Zealanders aboard the Greg Mortimer cruise ship to Melbourne.

The passengers will first move by boat for the 20 miles (32 km) to the capital, Montevideo, and from there on buses to the airport, under strict health security measures, the spokesman said.

Aurora Expeditions, which owns the Greg Mortimer, reported that of the 217 tests carried out on the ship’s passengers and crew, 128 were positive and 89 were negative.

In addition to Australians and New Zealanders, there are people from the United States, the United Kingdom, Jamaica and several European countries aboard, according to official data.

Uruguay is talking with the governments of those countries about how and when their citizens will return home, the spokesman said.

Reporting by Fabian Werner, writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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