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Bringing Brits home from bug-stricken ship not without risk says prof

Repatriating people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship "is not free from risks," an expert has said.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said measures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus among passengers and crew appear to now be ineffective, given the high number of extra cases reported on the cruise ship in recent days.

A couple from Northamptonshire in quarantine onboard a cruise ship in Japan have confirmed they have proved positive for Coronavirus.

David Abel and his wife sally, who live in Woodford Halse near Daventry, have been stuck on the Diamond Princess since the outbreak.

He added: "Given that the safety from infection of remaining passengers and crew cannot be guaranteed, several countries are repatriating their nationals.

he Diamond Princess has been docked off the coast of Japan since early February Credit: PA

"Whilst such efforts are understandable and indeed desirable for the currently quarantined passengers, such repatriation is not free from risks. Considerable care needs to be made to ensure that the passengers do not transmit infection between themselves or to cabin crew during the flight home, and once back on home soil they do not act as a focus for the spread of the disease into their home countries."

– Prof Paul Hunter

Prof Hunter said the rapid spread of infections on board cruise ships is due to the fact passengers come from all over the world, are often elderly and spend most of their time on board indoors mixing with others.

The Government is currently arranging to fly more than 70 Britons off the Diamond Princess, which is quarantined off the coast of Japan.