The Federal Government is looking at options for a mercy mission to evacuate stranded Australians on board a quarantined cruise ship in Japan.
It comes as the US sends an aircraft to Japan to rescue its citizens on board the Diamond Princess.
223 Australians are among the 3,700 passengers on board the ship.
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The are now 283 confirmed cases of coronavirus on board, with 15 Australians among those diagnosed.
The Australian embassy in Tokyo emailed citizens aboard the cruise ship to say the federal government is examining options to assist Australians.
The embassy told citizens it understood it was a “very stressful” situation for them and that Australian medical officers were working closely with Japanese authorities to support them.
It comes as an Australian infectious disease expert arrives in Japan.
The expert will join an international team to gather information about all passengers on board.
Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says they’ll consider all available options.
“We know there are a number of elderly people in that group so that poses particular risks and issues for them,” Professor Kelly said.
“He’ll be looking at the health and welfare of that group and what might be best done.”
Officials won’t confirm whether they’re also looking sending an aircraft to bring Australians home.
“We’ll wait for our expert to assess what is the best option for those Australians,” Professor Kelly said.
“This has been a very difficult situation to be stuck on that ship for so long and we certainly want to make the best options available to our own citizens.”