British passengers from virus-hit cruise ship due to arrive home


Posted at Feb 22 2020 09:44 AM

People board a plane chartered for British passengers after they left the coronavirus-hit cruise ship Diamond Princess at Haneda Airport, Tokyo, Japan, February 22, 2020. Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters

LONDON - Some 35 British passengers were due to arrive back home on Saturday after spending more than two weeks stuck on a quarantined cruise ship in a Japanese port due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

They were landing at a defense ministry airfield in southwestern England on a government-chartered plane from Tokyo and being taken straight to quarantine facilities.

The Diamond Princess liner was carrying 3,700 people, including 78 Britons, when it was quarantined in Yokohama on Feb. 5 after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to have been infected with the virus, which originated from China. 

More than 620 passengers on board have been infected with the coronavirus, the most outside mainland China.

Some British passengers had already been evacuated over the last week on flights to Hong Kong, the BBC reported. Others were being treated for the virus in health facilities in Japan.

At least four UK nationals contracted the virus on board, but those arriving home on Saturday had tested negative.

As of Friday afternoon, a total of 5,549 people in Britain have been tested for coronavirus, of whom nine were positive.