British couple on quarantined cruise fear they have tested positive for coronavirus

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner

A British couple on board the cruise ship quarantined in Japan fear they have tested positive for coronavirus.

David and Sally Abel have posted regular updates from on board the Diamond Princess, which is quarantined near Yokohama, Japan.

Mr Abel said the couple were well and had passed all medical checks run by the ship, which has 74 Britons on board.

But on Tuesday morning UK time, Mr Abel posted on Facebook: “There is going to be a time of quiet.

“We have been proved positive and leaving for hospital soon. Blessings all xxx.”

In a follow-up post, he said: “Frankly i think this is a setup! We are NOT being taken to a hospital but a hostel. That’s where partners are sent waiting out there (sic) quarantine.

“No phone, no wi-fi and no medical facilities. I really am smelling a very big rat here! Waiting for the transfer now. xx."

Stephen Abel, David's son, told ITV News the family has been "very disappointed" in the UK Government and said his parents have been "left in the dark", along with other British passengers.

"The communication from the foreign office has been non-existent," he said. "They've completely left them alone, in the dark, my mum and dad I think have had more communication from America and Canada than (from) England."

He added: "It's very disappointing that other countries are really taking care of their own and our country is just not taking care of my mum and dad and the other Brits on that boat.

"Maybe Boris Johnson's priorities are on HS2 instead of getting UK [nationals] back to our country."

The quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess is anchored at the Yokohama Port. Credit: AP

Mr Abel recorded a video post for ITV News just hours before he was diagnosed with coronavirus.

In the message, he spoke of he and his wife's "anxious" wait for the results of their test.

He said: "The thing that is increasing the anxiety is just not knowing.

"The results were due to be in the two to three days. We've now exceeded the three days. This does not mean, it's not implying we must be positive, it's anything but."

However hours after the message was recorded, Mr Abel posted on his Facebook page that both he and his wife had been diagnosed with coronavirus.

It comes after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said they were “working to organise” a flight back to the UK for British nationals still on board the cruise ship.

The department has faced pressure to fly home the 74 Britons on the Diamond Princess after the US chartered two planes and repatriated 340 of its citizens.

“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,” a statement from the department said.

“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.”

Downing Street has said the prime minister has spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping and "offered his sympathies" for those affected by the outbreak.

Earlier, a Number 10 spokesman said those on board the ship docked near Yokohama, Japan, were being contacted about the possibility of a repatriation flight.

Responding to reports of criticism over the UK's response to, minister Kwasi Kwarteng said the Government is "working tirelessly" to bring people back.

He said the situation was initially "up to the Japanese authorities" but that the Government began work once it was known British passengers were on the cruise ship.

The quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship. Credit: AP

Since Monday, the Japanese Health Ministry confirmed 88 more cases of coronavirus on a quarantined cruise ship near Tokyo.

The new cases bring the total on the Diamond Princess to 542 among 3,711 quarantined passengers and crew, including Mr and Mrs Abel.

The number is by far the largest outside China.

Covid-19 around the world. Credit: PA

Four Britons with confirmed coronavirus are currently in hospital in Japan, according to the latest official figures.

The data comes after Sir Richard Branson said Virgin Atlantic was “in discussions” with the Government over whether he could help those stranded.

He responded via Twitter to an appeal from David and Sally Abel, who are among those who have been trapped in their cabins for days, who asked the British businessman and philanthropist to charter a special plane.

The couple’s son Steve Abel renewed appeals for the Government to help his parents, who he fears may become separated in Japan.

Both are still awaiting the results of their own tests for Covid-19.

Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz said the firm has worked with authorities to send more doctors and nurses on board the ship and has helped fulfil 2,000 prescription requests.

However, there is still uncertainty over whether passengers will be able to leave the ship at the end of the 14-day quarantine period on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Government has block-booked the Holiday Inn Heathrow Ariel hotel as a potential quarantine zone for international visitors to the UK who develop coronavirus, or for Britons evacuated from overseas.

As of Tuesday, a total of 4,916 people have been tested, of which 4,907 were confirmed negative and 9 positive.

The death toll in mainland China rose by 98 to 1,868, in figures announced early on Tuesday morning, while the number of people infected globally stands at 72,436, according to the country’s National Health Commission.