British tourist David Abel and his wife test positive for coronavirus on board cruise ship where he has been providing the world with updates throughout their quarantine
- David and Sally Abel are among 169 new patients on the ship in the last 48 hours
- They will now be taken to a mainland hospital and face a further quarantine
- UK government said today it is ‘working to organise a flight’ for stranded Britons
British cruise ship passenger David Abel and his wife Sally have today tested positive for coronavirus in Japan.
The two British tourists are among 169 people confirmed to have the virus over the last 48 hours, taking the total on board the ship past 500.
They will now be taken into a further quarantine on the mainland just a day before their lockdown on board the Diamond Princess was due to end.
‘We have been proved positive and leaving for hospital soon. Blessings all,’ said Mr Abel as he revealed his diagnosis today.
The 74-year-old has been providing regular updates from on board the ship but said there would now be a ‘time of quiet’.
The Foreign Office said today it was ‘working to organise a flight back to the UK’ for British passengers but it is unclear whether Mr and Mrs Abel will now be eligible.
British cruise ship passenger David Abel and his wife Sally (pictured in their cabin on the Diamond Princess) have tested positive for coronavirus in Japan
Two buses arrive next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama on Sunday where another 99 cases of the coronavirus were confirmed today
In the last of his regular Facebook updates, Mr Abel had said he was ‘confident we will test negative’ after medics screened the couple for the virus.
After receiving his test results, Mr Abel initially said the pair were heading for hospital but later said they were destined for a ‘hostel’.
‘That’s where partners are sent waiting out their quarantine. No phone, no wi-fi and no medical facilities,’ he claimed.
Mr Abel had also been leading calls for the UK to organise a rescue flight after the US pulled out its citizens and other countries lined up similar flights.
After growing frustration from British passengers, the UK embassy in Tokyo said today it was hastily making arrangements to repatriate them.
‘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,’ the embassy said.
‘Our staff are contacting British nationals on board to make the necessary arrangements.’
Medical staff wearing protective suits are seen at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal where the Diamond Princess is anchored
A bus carrying US citizens leaves the Daikaku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port early yesterday after Washington organised an airlift
US passengers wearing masks look out from the window of a coach which took them from the Yokohama port to an airport from which they flew across the Pacific
Mr and Mrs Abel were among 3,711 people taken into quarantine when the ship arrived in Yokohama two weeks ago.
Japanese authorities ordered tests after an 80-year-old passenger who left the ship in Hong Kong last month was found to have the virus.
Passengers have been confined to their cabins amid a spiralling number of cases which has sparked growing criticism of Japanese authorities.
More than 1,800 people have now been screened for the virus with more than 500 of them testing positive.
As a result, the Diamond Princess is now the largest cluster of virus cases outside mainland China.
Japanese authorities confirmed 99 cases yesterday and Princess Cruises said 169 had tested positive over the last two days.
More than 300 Americans were evacuated from the ship early on Monday, among them over a dozen who have tested positive for the virus.
The evacuees are now facing another 14-day quarantine after they landed in North America yesterday.
The two British tourists are among 169 people confirmed to have the virus over the last 48 hours, taking the total on board the Diamond Princess (pictured) to more than 500
Canada said today it had ‘secured a chartered flight to repatriate Canadians on board the Diamond Princess’ but gave no further details.
There were 256 Canadians on board the ship, with 32 so far testing positive for the virus.
South Korea will send a presidential aircraft on Tuesday to fly back four nationals and one Japanese spouse, an official told reporters.
There are 14 South Koreans on board in total, but the other ten have declined to be evacuated because they live in Japan, the Yonhap news agency reported.
While foreign governments have couched their decision to remove citizens as an attempt to reduce the burden on Japanese authorities, many have interpreted the evacuations as criticism of Tokyo’s handling of the situation.
The US and Australia have told citizens that if they decline repatriation and an additional 14-day quarantine, they will not be allowed home for at least two weeks, suggesting they do not believe the ship-based quarantine has worked.
Experts say that cruise ships are vulnerable to the spread of viruses because of the high number of elderly passengers who are confined together.
Health officials in protective suits on a shuttle bus transporting U.S. passengers who have chosen to leave the Diamond Princess cruise ship
There are nearly 3,000 people on board the Diamond Princess, which has been held at a port near Yokohama, Japan, since February 3 with passengers not allowed to leave
‘Crews are ‘well aware of the spread of disease on board, considering that you can have hundreds or thousands of passengers in a relatively confined, isolated environment for days or weeks,’ said Southampton-based professor William Keevil.
‘They rely on the honesty of the passengers declaring if they are unwell or have had a recent illness as they board ship,’ he said last week.
‘The problem is that some potentially ill passengers, having looked forward to their holiday and spent a lot of money, do not want to miss out and board ship anyway.
‘Alternatively, someone may innocently board the ship without any symptoms which subsequently develop onboard. They are required to immediately declare this and isolate themselves.’
The coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 1,800 people in total with nearly 72,500 people confirmed to have the virus.
The official death toll in China hit 1,868 today after another 98 people died, mostly in Wuhan and the surrounding province of Hubei
Five people have died outside mainland China – in France, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The virus is believed to have emerged in a market selling wild animals in Wuhan last year before spreading across China.
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