A British couple have been told they tested positive for coronavirus on a cruise ship where they have been posting regular video updates online.

David Abel revealed on Tuesday that he and his wife Sally were informed they are carrying the flu-like virus after two weeks trapped on board the quarantined Diamond Princess in Yokohama, Japan.

Mr Abel, from Woodford Halse, Oxfordshire, wrote on Facebook: "There is going to be a time of quiet. We have been proved positive and leaving for hospital soon. Blessings all."

But he later told friends he didn't believe the results, writing: "Frankly i think this is a setup! We are NOT being taken to a hospital but a hostel. That’s where partners are sent waiting out there quarantine.

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"No phone, no wi-fi and no medical facilities. I really am smelling a very big rat here! Waiting for the transfer now."

He told a friend: "I doubt it was positive. If it was, we would be in hospital."

Mr Abel, 74, wrote that he and his wife – who were on the cruise to celebrate their wedding anniversary – would be removed from the ship together but they might be separated once they arrive at a hostel.

In previous videos and social media posts, the retired couple had urged the UK Government to rescue the Britons trapped on board the ship, even appealing to billionaire Sir Richard Branson for help.

David Abel's blog update on Monday:

The vessel has been in quarantine at a port in Yokohama for two weeks.

The Abels' positive test result came as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was organising a flight back to the UK for British nationals on board the ship.

The department has faced pressure to fly home the 74 Britons on the Diamond Princess after the US chartered two planes and repatriated 340 of its citizens.

"Given the conditions on board, we are working to organise a flight back to the UK for British nationals on the Diamond Princess as soon as possible," a statement from the department said.

"Our staff are contacting British nationals on board to make the necessary arrangements.

"We urge all those who have not yet responded to get in touch immediately."

Earlier, a Number 10 spokesman said those on board the ship were being contacted about the possibility of a repatriation flight.

On Monday, the Japanese Health Ministry confirmed 99 more people on board have been diagnosed with the illness, bringing the total to 454.

Four Britons with confirmed coronavirus are currently in hospital in Japan, according to the latest official figures.

The data comes after Sir Richard Branson said Virgin Atlantic was "in discussions" with the Government over whether he could help those stranded.

He responded via Twitter to an appeal from Mr and Mrs Abel, who asked the British businessman and philanthropist to charter a special plane.

Sir Richard wrote: "@VirginAtlantic does not fly to Japan, but we are in discussions with the UK government and seeing if there is anything we can do to help."

The Abels' son, Steve, renewed appeals for the Government to help his parents, who he fears may become separated in Japan.

Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz said the firm has worked with authorities to send more doctors and nurses on board the ship and has helped fulfil 2,000 prescription requests.

However, there is still uncertainty over whether passengers will be able to leave the ship at the end of the 14-day quarantine period on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Government has block-booked the Holiday Inn Heathrow Ariel hotel as a potential quarantine zone for international visitors to the UK who develop coronavirus, or for Britons evacuated from overseas.

As of Monday afternoon, 4,501 people in total have now been tested for Covid-19 in the UK, of which nine have come back positive.

The death toll in mainland China rose by 98 to 1,868, in figures announced early on Tuesday morning, while the number of people infected globally stands at 72,436, according to the country's National Health Commission.

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