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Coronavirus: Passengers allowed to leave cruise ship

  • 19 February 2020
Related Topics
  • Coronavirus outbreak

DR NEWS Urandir 674a  110954050 hi060037891    Coronavirus: Passengers allowed to leave cruise ship by Urandir OliveiraImage copyright
Getty Images

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About 3,700 people have been quarantined on board the Diamond Princess for two weeks

Passengers stranded on a quarantined cruise ship in Japan for more than two weeks have begun to disembark.

There are 74 British nationals on the Diamond Princess ship, which was quarantined on 3 February after an outbreak of coronavirus onboard.

On Wednesday, the cruise operator and Japanese officials allowed passengers to disembark once they were given the all-clear.

The UK government said it hopes to fly the Britons back “later this week”.

“We are planning an evacuation flight from Tokyo to the UK as soon as possible for Britons who are on the Diamond Princess,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

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Getty Images

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Passengers began leaving the ship around 2:00 GMT, Reuters reported

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Reuters

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There have been more than 500 confirmed cases of the virus Covid-19 on the ship

“We have the utmost concern for the affected Britons and strongly encourage them to register for the evacuation flight,” it added.

BBC correspondent Laura Bicker said the first passengers who stepped off the cruise ship quickly made their way onto waiting coaches, while some even decided to take a taxi.

Meanwhile, South Korea has banned entry to all foreigners who have been aboard the cruise liner.

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As of Tuesday, there were 88 new cases of infection on board the ship, bringing the total to 542 confirmed cases, Japanese officials said – around one in seven passengers.

It is the largest cluster of cases outside China.

The US has already evacuated more than 300 of its citizens from the ship. South Korea, Canada, Australia, Israel and Hong Kong are also planning evacuations.

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Reuters

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The ship has been in Yokohama, a city south of Tokyo

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Reuters

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The US chartered two planes to bring back its citizens from the cruise ship

Earlier, Japan’s health minister said all passengers still on board had been tested for the virus and those who had tested negative would start leaving the ship on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, there was confusion over whether a British couple on board the ship – who had been giving regular updates to journalists and via social media – had tested positive for the virus.

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PA Media

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Two Britons on the ship, Sally and David Abel, say they have tested positive for the virus

David Abel, from Northamptonshire, later said on Facebook he and his wife Sally were confirmed as having the virus and were going to a hostel before they could be transferred to a hospital.

“We both feel fine but have indeed tested positive for the virus,” he said.

Another British passenger on board the ship, Elaine Spencer, said she had been “very disappointed” with the UK government’s initial response and they should have organised a rescue flight sooner.

She told Radio 4’s Today programme that British passengers who wanted to get on the rescue flight had to sign an agreement that they would go into quarantine for 14 days on their return to the UK.

“I need to go home, I want to see my family but obviously it’s going to be another 14 days (after the flight). I wish that they’d decided to do this last week.”

According to official figures on Monday, four Britons from the ship – which is in the port of Yokohama – are in hospital in Japan with confirmed coronavirus.

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney confirmed two out of six Irish passengers on the Princess Diamond tested positive for the virus and are being treated in hospital in Japan.

Mr Coveney said the passengers have dual citizenship with another EU member state and did not normally live in Ireland – but that the Irish embassy in Tokyo was in contact with them.

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The president of Princess Cruises, Jan Swartz, said the company has sent more doctors and nurses on to the ship.

The Foreign Office is advising affected British nationals to call the British embassy in Tokyo on +81 3 5211 1100.

As of Tuesday at 14:00 GMT, in the UK a total of 4,916 people had been tested for coronavirus. Only nine people have tested positive and the rest have been confirmed negative.


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