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Australians' health top priority: Albanese

Australians' health top priority: Albanese

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says he understands the federal government is in discussions regarding the 200 Australians that are trapped on the Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Yokohama.

His comments came as an Australian infectious disease expert landed in Japan to help authorities cope with concerns about passengers on the ship, which has been quarantined because of the coronavirus.

"We need to put the health of Australians as our absolute priority," Mr Albanese said in Perth.

The expert joins an international team in Japan to gather information about the passengers on board.

The US is sending an aircraft to Japan to bring back US passengers on the Diamond Princess, where the most coronavirus infections outside China have occurred.

The Australian embassy in Tokyo emailed citizens aboard the cruise ship to say the federal government is also 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.

NSW Health said passengers arriving into Sydney from some cruise ships will be assessed by experts as a precautionary measure.

A risk assessment will be completed for each cruise ship arriving into the harbour city before it berths and then a decision will be made by health authorities whether to disembark passengers.

The federal government last week extended the two-week travel ban from mainland China for another seven days to prevent the spread of COVID-19, raising concerns among businesses and universities that rely on Chinese visitors and students.

World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus believes the outbreak of COVID-19 is evidence the global community is poorly prepared for a medical pandemic.

"For too long, the world has operated on a cycle of panic and neglect," he told a conference in Germany

"We throw money at an outbreak and when it's over, we forget about it and do nothing to prevent the next one."

In contrast, he said, the world spends billions of dollars preparing for a terrorist attack but relatively little preparing for the attack of a virus which could be far more deadly and far more damaging economically, politically and socially.

No quarantined Australians at Christmas Island and Darwin have tested positive for the virus and the first group of evacuees are due to return home on Monday.

Of the 15 coronavirus cases in Australia, six have been cleared and the remaining nine are all stable.

In China, the total number of people infected by the virus rose to more than 66,000 on Saturday, with the number of deaths passing 1500.