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  1. ITV Report

First buses carrying Britons from coronavirus-hit cruise ship Diamond Princess depart for repatriation flight

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia

The first buses carrying quarantined Britons from a cruise ship have left the quayside in Yokohama, Japan en route to a flight which will repatriate them to the UK.

It is believed some 35 British nationals will be on board the plane, which has been delayed until Saturday. A small number of nationals from European nations will also be on the flight, alongside British government medics, it is understood.

The number of Britons on the aircraft is lower than the 78 initially expected; some are in hospital while others will remain on the vessel.

Others from the ship will stay in Japan, while other passengers will be on a flight to Hong Kong.

Despite testing negative to the virus in Japan, those on the evacuation flight will be taken straight to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral for 14 days of quarantine.

British Diamond Princess passenger Elaine Spencer sent a video to ITV News from the cruise ship after the delay was announced on Friday.

She thanked the cruise ship's staff, saying they "did everything you could for us", and thanked the UK Government for "eventually" deciding to bring them home.

  • British Diamond Princess passenger Elaine Spencer speaks before her evacuation.

The Diamond Princess was carrying more than 3,700 people in early February when 10 passengers were diagnosed with the Covid-19 strain of the disease.

Since being quarantined in the port of Yokohama, a total of 634 passengers and crew have been infected, accounting for more than half of all the confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China.

The four Britons on board the Diamond Princess who have tested positive for coronavirus will not be on the flight.

David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, have been documenting their time on the quarantined ship on Facebook.

The couple are now being treated in a Japanese hospital after days shut in their cabin following their diagnosis.

Britons returning from the Diamond Princess face a further two weeks in quarantine at the Arrowe Park hospital in the Wirral. Credit: PA

Mr Abel admitted he was initially sceptical about whether his diagnosis was accurate, but has since confirmed both he and his wife have tested positive.

In his latest post, Mr Abel said: “Full health inspection and now we know what’s going on. We both contracted a cold (unaware of) and it has not yet turned into pneumonia. (we do have coronavirus).

“Tomorrow the big tests commence. chest x-rays, ECG, chest scan, urine + more.

“We are both in the best place! They do know what they are doing and our two nurses are gorgeous. Sally likes the Dr too.”

Mr Abel said that following treatment, the couple would need three rounds of all-clears on coronavirus tests.

He added: “WiFi will not work for me, so this will be the final communication for some time.

“See you all before you know it.”

David Abel was one of the British passengers on the cruise ship. Credit: PA

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

The group are receiving health advice and being helped with commercial flight bookings. All have tested negative after one case was diagnosed on board.

The number of Britons in the group has not been disclosed, and it is unclear whether some have already come back to the UK.

Public Health England (PHE) said airport health teams would meet the flights and speak to Westerdam passengers about any symptoms.

If they do not have symptoms, passengers will be given health advice and told to self-isolate at home for 14 days but, if they have symptoms, they will be taken to hospital for testing.

Sally and David Abel tested positive for the virus. Credit: David Abel/ Facebook

As of 2pm on Thursday, a total of 5,549 people in the UK have been tested for coronavirus, of whom nine have tested positive.

There have been more than 75,000 confirmed infections recorded in mainland China and around 1,070 cases across 26 other countries – including those on board the Diamond Princess.

Authorities in China recorded 118 deaths on Thursday, bringing the total to 2,236 inside the country.

In the World Health Organisation (WHO) briefing on Thursday, director general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said: “You will get sick of me saying that the window of opportunity remains open for us to contain this Covid-19 outbreak.

“WHO is doing everything we can to seize that window of opportunity, and we urge the international community to do the same.”

He said the data continues to show a decline in new cases “but this is no time for complacency”.