At least 10 on Japan cruise ship have new coronavirus: minister

Tokyo (AFP) - At least 10 passengers on a cruise ship that Japan quarantined tested positive for the new coronavirus, the Japanese health minister said on Wednesday.

Japan has quarantined the vessel carrying 3,711 people and was testing those onboard for the virus after a former passenger was diagnosed with the illness in Hong Kong.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters that specimens from more than 200 people were collected.

"From around 7:30 am (2230 GMT Tuesday), we had them (the 10 who tested positive) get off the vessel, and with cooperation with the coastguard we are sending them to medical organisations," he said.

More than 20 countries have confirmed cases of the virus, which has killed nearly 500 people and infected more than 24,000 in mainland China.

The outbreak has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency, several governments to institute travel restrictions, and airlines to suspend flights to and from China.