Four more UK patients test positive for coronavirus

23 February 2020, 17:19

British Diamond Princess evacuees depart from Boscombe Down airfield following a repatriation flight from Tokyo
British Diamond Princess evacuees depart from Boscombe Down airfield following a repatriation flight from Tokyo. Picture: Getty

By Matt Drake

Four patients among British and Irish evacuees who landed back in the UK from Japan yesterday have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty says four more patients in England have tested positive at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.

This has brought the total number of cases in the UK to 13.

Covid-19 was transmitted when they were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The patients were among 30 Britons and two Irish citizens who landed at Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence near Salisbury on Saturday.

They were evacuated from Tokyo after the ship was docked in Yokohama, Japan.

The Department of Health said a "full infectious disease risk assessment" was done before Saturday's repatriation flight and that no one who boarded the plane had displayed any symptoms of the virus.

Any more passengers who test positive will immediately be taken into specialist NHS care, the department said.

It added that "appropriate arrangements" are in place at Arrowe Park, including strict separation of passengers from staff and from each other.

The Foreign Office said the flight had British government and medical staff on board.

On Sunday, Japan's health ministry said a cruise ship passenger in his 80s who was tested positive for the virus had died.

This was the third fatality from the Diamond Princess.

A total of four people have died from the virus in Japan, all of them in their 80s.

British couple David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, who were on the cruise for their 50th wedding anniversary, are still in a Japanese hospital after being diagnosed with coronavirus and pneumonia.

British Diamond Princess evacuees arrive at Arrowe Park Hospital on February 22
British Diamond Princess evacuees arrive at Arrowe Park Hospital on February 22. Picture: Getty

Relatives said the couple are both "having a really tough time" and feel "very much in the dark" in terms of treatment, adding that they are awaiting further tests.

Speaking in a liveblog on Sunday, their daughter-in-law Roberta Abel said: "We want to get them discharged from the hospital and back to the UK as negative.

"They are scared. They said to us today, 'If we get that virus again, we are not coming home'."

The development comes as 118 people were released from a coronavirus quarantine centre in Milton Keynes.

The group - who had been brought back to Britain earlier this month on a repatriation flight from Wuhan - spent 14 days at the Kents Hill Park training and conference centre.

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