Four evacuated cruise ship passengers diagnosed with coronavirus in UK, bringing total to 13

Four more people in the UK have been diagnosed with coronavirus, bringing the total to 13.

The four - confirmed to be British nationals - have been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres.

The new cases are among the 32 evacuees - reportedly made up of 30 Britons and two Irish nationals – from the Diamond Princess - a cruise ship on board which more than 600 developed the particular strain of the respiratory disease known as Covid-19.

Meanwhile Italy is struggling to contain the spread of coronavirus, with at least 152 confirmed cases and three deats making it the most infected country outside of Asia

The new UK cases were confirmed by the Chief Medical Officer for England.

Professor Chris Whitty said: "Four further patients in England have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 13.

"The virus was passed on in the Diamond Princess cruise ship and the patients are being transferred from Arrowe Park to specialist NHS infection centres."

Those who returned to the UK had undergone a "full infectious disease risk assessment", the Department of Health said, adding that no-one who boarded the repatriation flight had displayed any symptoms of the virus before they departed Japan where the ship had been quarantined in Yokohama for more than two weeks.

The ship was placed on lockdown after it emerged that a man who later tested positive for the illness had disembarked in Hong Kong.

Patients were tested as the disembarked the Diamond Princess after more than two weeks in quarantined on board. Credit: AP

After landing back in the UK the Brits were taken to Arrowe Park hospital on the Wirral where they will remain in isolation for two weeks in a bid to stop the further spread of the illness.

Those who have tested positive for Covid-19 have been taken to a specialist NHS infection centre.

Four other UK nationals who developed Covid-19 while on board the ship are being treated in hospital in Japan, among who are Sally and David Abel who documented their quarantine on the cruise ship.

Several others decided to remain in quarantine on the ship.

Coronavirus patients are treated in hospital in Wuhan, China. Credit: AP

Almost one-fifth of the 3,711 passengers originally on board the cruise liner have been infected.

Japan's health ministry announced on Sunday that one of the passengers taken to hospital after testing positive for the virus has died.

The death of the Japanese man aged in his eighties brings the number of fatalities from the Diamond Princess to three.

Sally and David Abel are being treated in hospital in Japan. Credit: David Abel

On Saturday, it was announced that both Mr and Mrs Abel had contracted pneumonia.

The Abels 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 mild pneumonia.

Relatives said the couple are both "having a really tough time" and feel "very much in the dark" in terms of treatment, adding that they are awaiting further tests.

Speaking in a liveblog on Sunday, their daughter-in-law Roberta Abel said: "We want to get them discharged from the hospital and back to the UK as negative.

"They are scared. They said to us today, 'If we get that virus again, we are not coming home'."

Coronavirus spread on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was place in quarantine in Japan. Credit: AP

On Sunday it was announced that the death toll in mainland China from Covid-19 - a respiratory disease caused by the latest strain of coronavirus - has risen by 97 to 2,442, Chinese health authorities said.

The total number of cases in China is 76,510, most of which are in Hubei, the province where Covid-19 originated.

Also on Sunday, more than 100 Britons and their families who were flown back to the UK from coronavirus-hit Wuhan returned home after two weeks spent in quarantine.

  • Paul Walkinshaw, one of those allowed home after two weeks in quarantine said it felt "fantastic to leave although it feels weird not having to wear a mask and gloves in public"

Some 118 people were being released from Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes, with guests holding backpacks and suitcases pictured getting taxis.

One evacuee told of his relief at being allowed to return home, but said the group had been well looked after during their 14-day stay at the conference centre.

The group, who were brought back to Britain earlier this month on a repatriation flight from Wuhan, included around 10 children and a family of four.

Elsewhere 12 towns in northern Italy have been placed on lockdown after the number of coronavirus cases doubled over overnight and hit 152 on Sunday.

Three people in Italy have died from the disease.

Following the outbreak in Italy, Austria blocked all rail travel in and out of Italy following fears that a train on Sunday night had two people on board who may have been infected.

Three Serie A matches have been postponed and Venice has cancelled the rest of its carnival in a bid to stop the spread of the illness.

Concerns are growing over Covid-19 - the respiratory disease caused by the current strain of coronavirus - in Italy due to the growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak in China.

The issue has also been compounded by the authorities' inability to track down "patient zero" - the person who initially brought the coronavirus to Italy.

  • Daniel Hewitt says that the coronavirus outbreak in Italy is the biggest outside of Asia, but adds that Foreign Office advice about travel to Italy has not changed

The number of daily new cases also surged in South Korea and six deaths were confirmed, prompting the president to put the country on its highest alert for infectious diseases and stating officials should take “unprecedented, powerful” steps to fight a viral outbreak.

Meanwhile, in Iran, the death toll has climbed to eight, the largest outside China.