More than 70 Brits stranded on coronavirus-hit cruise ship could be flown back to UK

17 February 2020, 14:30

The coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess is docked in Yokohama, off the coast of Japan
The coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess is docked in Yokohama, off the coast of Japan. Picture: PA

By Megan White

More than 70 Brits stranded on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship could be flown home in a bid to “guarantee their health and safety.”

Downing Street confirmed the Government are looking into the possibility of organising a repatriation flight for those on board the Diamond Princess, which is docked in Yokohama, off the coast of Japan.

There are 74 Britons on the Diamond Princess, of which 22 are crew members.

On Monday, the Japanese Health Ministry confirmed 99 more people on board have been diagnosed with coronavirus illness, also known as Covid-19, bringing the total to 454.

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

Buses carrying US passengers who were aboard the quarantined cruise ship leave the port
Buses carrying US passengers who were aboard the quarantined cruise ship leave the port. Picture: PA

A Number 10 spokesman said: "We sympathise with all those caught up in this extremely difficult situation.

"The Foreign Office is in contact with all British people on the Diamond Princess, including to establish interest in a possible repatriation flight.

"We are urgently considering all options to guarantee the health and safety of those on board."

On Sunday, the US charted two planes and flew home 340 of its citizens while other countries, including Canada, Hong Kong and Australia, have said they are organising flights to remove people from the ship.

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

Sir Richard took to Twitter in response to an appeal from David and Sally Abel, who are among those who have been trapped in their cabins for days.

Sir Richard tweeted: "@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."

Last week, Mr Abel appealed to Mr Branson to charter a special plane to rescue British nationals from the ship.

Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz has 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 Independent reported that the Holiday Inn Heathrow Ariel hotel has been block-booked as a potential quarantine zone for international visitors to the UK who develop coronavirus or for Britons evacuated to the UK from overseas.

Nine people in the UK have tested positive for Covid-19, with eight of those patients now discharged from hospital.

Meanwhile, the death toll in mainland China rose by 105 to 1,770, in figures announced early on Monday morning.

The number of people infected globally stands at 68,500, according to the country's National Health Commission.

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Germany Veteran Gorilla

Berlin Zoo celebrates gorilla’s 67th birthday with fruity treat

Germany Transgender Rights

German parliament votes to make it easier for people to change name and gender

Abortion rights activists react during a debate in the Polish parliament from the gallery of the assembly, in Warsaw, Poland

Poland’s parliament votes to move forward with lifting near-total abortion ban

A banquet hall, with elegant black walls, decorated with mythological subjects inspired by the Trojan War, recently unearthed in the Pompeii archaeological area near Naples in southern Italy

Archaeologists excavating new sites in Pompeii uncover sumptuous banquet hall

Russian Emergency Situation Ministry rescuers ride a boat to help local residents during evacuations from a flooded area in Orenburg, Russia

Nearly 12,000 homes flooded in Russian region after dam collapse

WhatsApp has been criticised after lowering its age limit

Meta under fire after WhatsApp lowers age restriction from 16 to 13

Russia Putin

Kremlin says 2022 draft document could be starting point for Ukraine peace talks

Vatican Asia

Pope Francis set to travel across Asia in longest trip of papacy

Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo arrives for an EU Summit in Brussels (

Belgian leader announces probe into ‘Russian interference’ in EU elections

The moment a Saudi fan whips a player

Extraordinary moment Saudi football fan whips player after Super Cup final

Firefighters work at the scene of an explosion that occurred at the Enel Green Power hydroelectric plant at the Suviana Dam, Bologna, Italy

Death toll from Italian plant explosion rises to seven as last bodies recovered

An emergency worker extinguishes a fire after a Russian attack on the Trypilska thermal power plant in Ukrainka, Kyiv

Missile and drone attack destroys one of Ukraine’s largest power plants

The 'help' sign was spotted by Navy aircraft.

Castaways rescued from deserted Pacific island after writing ‘ingenious HELP message' in sand

North Korea China

Chinese and North Korean officials meet in highest-level meeting in years

US Philippines Japan

Biden says US support for Philippines and Japan defence ‘ironclad’

The pair of gloves were used by OJ Simpson's defence team.

'If it doesn't fit, you must acquit': How a pair of blood-stained gloves saved OJ Simpson in the 'trial of the century'