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Coronavirus: Foreign Office in bid to rescue Britons stranded on cruise ship
18 February 2020
- Coronavirus outbreak
The government is trying to rescue British nationals from a cruise ship in Japan that has been quarantined due to coronavirus fears.
There are 74 British passengers and crew on board the Diamond Princess ship – which was quarantined on 3 February.
The Foreign Office said it was “working to organise a flight back to the UK for British nationals on the Diamond Princess as soon as possible”.
The US has already repatriated more than 300 of its citizens from the ship.
Some of the British nationals on the Diamond Princess include passenger David Abel, who posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday morning that he was leaving the ship soon with his wife after being “proved positive”.
Earlier, he called for the government to evacuate the British citizens on board.
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Mr Abel’s son, Steve, said in a message posted on YouTube that his parents were beginning to feel the effects of “stress” and “confinement” after 28 days on the ship, which is at the Japanese port of Yokohoma.
On Monday, Japanese officials said there were 99 new cases of infections on board the ship, bringing the total to 454 confirmed cases. It is the largest cluster of cases outside China.
The president of Princess Cruises, Jan Swartz, said the company has sent more doctors and nurses on board the ship.
There is still uncertainty over whether passengers will be allowed to leave the ship at the end of the 14-day quarantine period on Wednesday.
According to the latest official figures, four Britons with confirmed coronavirus are currently in hospital in Japan.
As of Monday at 14:00 GMT, in the UK a total of 4,501 people have been tested for coronavirus. The majority have been confirmed negative, only nine are positive.
In a statement in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Foreign Office said: “Given the conditions on board, we are working to organise a flight back to the UK for British nationals on the Diamond Princess as soon as possible.
“Our staff are contacting British nationals on board to make the necessary arrangements. We urge all those who have not yet responded to get in touch immediately.”
Affected British nationals should call the British Embassy in Tokyo on +81 3 5211 1100.
Earlier, Downing Street said it was “urgently considering all options to guarantee the health and safety of those on board”.
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sources: world news from bbc news bbc.co.uk