Flight carrying Brits from coronavirus-hit cruise ship lands in UK from Japan

Flight carrying Brits from coronavirus-hit cruise ship lands in UK from Japan


A repatriation flight carrying 32 quarantined people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has landed in the UK this morning.

The plane, which carried British and European evacuees as well as British government and medical staff, touched down at Ministry of Defence base Boscombe Down in Wiltshire shortly after 11.30am.

In a statement issued after the plane landed, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "We have brought 32 British and European citizens safely home from Japan.

"The FCO worked hard to get them back to the UK securely.

"Our number one priority has consistently been the health and safety of UK nationals."

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The flight had previously been delayed by a day after the British embassy said it was "logistically complicated".

Passengers will now be taken by road to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral for 14 days of quarantine to protect against the spread of the illness should any of them be infected.

They have so far tested negative for Covid-19.

The evacuees have spent more than two weeks trapped on the coronavirus-stricken ship off the coast of Japan.

Four Britons on board the Diamond Princess who have tested positive for coronavirus were not on the flight.

It is unclear where the small number of EU citizens will be taken following the plane landing in the UK.

Arrowe Park was previously used to host 83 British nationals for a 14-day quarantine period earlier in February after they were flown out of Wuhan in China, which has been at the centre of the outbreak.

Before the flight, one passenger who was diagnosed with Covid-19 and has since been given the all-clear, joked that the experience would be like visiting a holiday camp.

Honeymooner Alan Steele was taken to a Japanese hospital and has since tested negative for the virus and been reunited with wife Wendy.

"Wendy's test was negative so Butlins the Wirral here we come for 14 days," Mr Steele posted on Facebook.

The Diamond Princess liner was carrying 3,700 people, including 78 Britons, when it was quarantined in Yokohama on February 5 after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to have the virus.

Since being kept on board the cruise liner in the port of Yokohama, a total of 634 passengers and crew have been infected, ITV News reports.

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It is believed some British nationals who were passengers did not register for the flight.

Others who were part of the Diamond Princess crew also opted to remain.

It is understood some people have returned to their homes overseas.

A British couple on board who were diagnosed with coronavirus have both since been diagnosed with pneumonia.

The family of David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, said they have now been moved to a "prison-like" hospital.

The couple were on the cruise for their 50th wedding anniversary when it was placed into quarantine.

Mr Abel has been diagnosed with acute pneumonia, while Mrs Abel has a mild case.

Although they were originally in a hospital just 90 minutes from the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship, Mrs Abel called her son in the middle of the night to say the couple were suddenly being moved to a different "three-star" hospital.

Steve Abel, their son, posted video updates on the couple's YouTube channel alongside his wife Roberta on Friday night and Saturday morning.

Britons in Cambodia who left another cruise ship, the Westerdam, and who have been cleared for travel, are also being assisted by the Foreign Office to make their way home.

All have tested negative after one case was diagnosed on board.

In order to help combat the spread of the virus in the UK, the NHS has started pilots of home testing for coronavirus where NHS staff, including nurses and paramedics, will visit people in their own homes.

As of Friday afternoon, a total of 5,549 people in Britain have been tested for coronavirus, with nine of them confirmed positive.

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