Government ‘working intensively’ to repatriate cruise ship Britons

The Grand Princess is currently off the coast of California after 21 people on board tested positive for Covid-19 Credit: Noah Berger/AP

The Government has said it is “working intensively” to secure a repatriation flight for Brits currently stuck on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship.

There are thought to be more than 140 British nationals on board the Grand Princess, which is currently off the coast of California after 21 people on board tested positive for Covid-19.

The Grand Princess ship, which is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries, is expected to dock in Oakland on Monday.

But it was said that only passengers requiring treatment and state residents would be able to disembark.

It is not known what will happen to passengers from other countries.

The quarantined ship is expected to dock in Oakland on Monday. Credit: PA

A British passenger said nobody from the Government had been in contact with them.

Justine Griffin is travelling with her husband and friends and renewed her wedding vows on board the ship to mark the 25th wedding anniversary.

Mrs Griffin said: “We won’t be getting off tomorrow as we are at the bottom of the list. First the sick then Californians, then any other Americans. They have no plans for international passengers yet — rumours going round about Texas but nothing concrete yet.”

The couple have not been tested for the coronavirus but believe they will have to enter quarantine in the UK for a further two weeks when they return home.

She added: "We have been told nothing from the English government or embassy.

“The international number my sister contacted back home said they would call back in eight hours — that was two days ago.”

Justine and Dave Griffin with friends Sharon and Steve Lane from their balconies on the quarantined Grand Princess. Credit: PA

She said an announcement came while the couples were on deck, that the Grand Princess had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence that the vessel was the breeding ground for a cluster of nearly 20 cases of Covid-19 that had resulted in at least one death after a previous voyage.

She said: “It came over the ship sound system and we were given an hour to get lunch, which was like a cattle market, and then get back to our cabins.

“It is very scary but angry as well. We were going to Singapore and Thailand and Bali on a cruise but it was cancelled the week before we were due to go. This cruise was the only one we could get that would work out with work and childcare arrangements.

“They quarantined the other people who had been on the overlapping cruise the day before us in their rooms so they should have told us then so we could have quarantined ourselves sooner.

"I have rheumatoid arthritis and take immuno-suppressant drugs, so I’m waiting to hear if I can still take them.”

The couple have been told they are unable to leave their room. Credit: PA

A Foreign Office spokesman said on Sunday: “We are working intensively with the US authorities on arrangements for a flight for British nationals who are currently on the Grand Princess Cruise ship off the coast of California.

“We remain in close contact with the local authorities and will work with them on their plans.

“We are also in contact with the Grand Princess’ staff, and are ready to support any British nationals who need our assistance.”

Meanwhile, the US death toll from the virus is at 19, with all but three victims in Washington state.

The number of infections swelled to more than 400, scattered across the US.