Two passengers from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that had been quarantined in Japan have died, public broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday.

The passengers were a man and a woman in their 80s, NHK said, citing an unidentified government source.

The British-flagged Diamond Princess arrived in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on February 3 with about 3,700 people onboard after the virus was diagnosed in a man who disembarked last month in Hong Kong.

Over 600 passengers have tested positive for the virus, SARS-CoV-2, so far.

Workers in protective gear look on as disembarking passengers leave the Diamond Princess cruise ship

Passengers began disembarking on Wednesday from the ship, which is operated by Carnival Corp. The process will be finished by Friday, NHK said.

An evacuation flight for Britons stuck onboard will leave Tokyo on Friday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

Mr Raab said information has been provided to those registered for the flight, but he urged "other British nationals still seeking to leave to contact us".

The Diamond Princess has been on lockdown in Japanese waters for over two weeks
78 British passengers were on the cruise liner, with over 600 testing positive aboard

There were 78 British passengers on the cruise liner, with four British cases since confirmed by the Foreign Office and another two reported. 

More than 100 Hong Kong residents who were quarantined on the ship landed on Thursday morning in the Asian financial hub, where they will face a further 14 days of quarantine.

Arriving on a chartered Cathay Pacific aircraft, the 106 passengers were part of a first batch of at least two government arranged flights to bring back hundreds of remaining citizens.

A worker in a protective suit checks the temperatures of passengers who were on board the Diamond Princess at Tokyo International Haneda airport
Britons David and Sally Abel having been vlogging daily aboard the ship

Authorities said 55 of the 364 Hong Kong residents on the ship were infected with the coronavirus. They will remain in Japan along with 33 other citizens who have been in close contact with them.

Passengers arriving in Hong Kong are being taken straight into quarantine at a new public housing estate in the city's New Territories region.

Hundreds of demonstrators rallied over the weekend against plans to turn some buildings into quarantine centres. Many said they were frustrated as they had waited years to move into the Chun Yeung estate where the cruise passengers will be housed.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has urged Hong Kongers to accept the government's quarantine plans.

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Coronavirus outbreak

Hong Kong has 65 confirmed cases of the virus and recorded its second death from the outbreak this week.

In addition to the opposition to quarantine centres, many residents have been calling on Lam to shut the entire border with mainland China. Some medical workers have been on strike to press that demand.

Lam has said closing the border would be impractical, inappropriate and discriminatory.