Coronavirus: British couple welcome treatment as others prepare to fly home

A British couple diagnosed with coronavirus in Japan have said they are “in the best place” as dozens of other Britons prepare to fly back to the UK.

David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, are being treated in a Japanese hospital after being taken from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been quarantined near Yokohama, Japan.

The ship has seen more than 620 cases of coronavirus, including at least four Britons, and is the largest cluster of cases outside China.

Around 70 other Britons from the ship – who have tested negative – are due to fly back to the UK from Tokyo on Friday.

Thursday 20th February. Thinking of all the Brits flying to UK tomorrow. Here I am having given 10 files of blood, ECG (EKG) and radiogram

Posted by David Abel on Wednesday, February 19, 2020

They will land at the Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence base near Salisbury, Wiltshire, in the early hours of Saturday morning UK time.

In a Facebook post, Mr Abel said: “We arrived in lovely hospital a couple of hours ago.

“Taken by ambulance blues & twos the entire journey.

“Outside the hospital I came over a bit weird and nearly passed out. Every pore on my body opened and i was wheelchaired to our room.

“Full health inspection and now we know what’s going on. We both contracted a cold (unaware of) and it has not yet turned into pneumonia. (we do have coronavirus).

Covid-19: confirmed cases
(PA Graphics)

“Tomorrow the big tests commence. chest x-rays, ECG, chest scan, urine + more.

“We are both in the best place! They do know what they are doing and our two nurses are gorgeous. Sally likes the Dr too.”

Mr Abel said that following treatment, the couple will need three rounds of all-clears on coronavirus tests.

He added: “Wi-fi will not work for me, so this will be the final communication for some time.

“See you all before you know it.”

Now Sally’s turn. Both beds in same room.

Posted by David Abel on Wednesday, February 19, 2020

In further posts, Mr Abel said his wife Sally had a bed in the same room as him and that they were “thinking of all the Brits flying to UK tomorrow.”

He also said it was “impossible to send or receive emails” and he was unable to contact the British embassy or his family.

Another British national on the ship who has recovered from the virus posted on Facebook on Wednesday to say he is heading home.

Alan Steele wrote: “Informed we will have to do another 2weeks quarentine back in blighty although japan has set me free as all ok.”

Meanwhile, two other British passengers, Alan Sandford and his wife Vanessa, said they were “very happy” to be flying back to the UK.

The Foreign Office has told Britons to stay on the ship while arrangements are made for them to disembark.

Mr Sandford, from Nottinghamshire, told BBC Breakfast they had both been given a certificate saying their coronavirus tests were negative.

He added the last few weeks had “certainly tested us” and been “a major inconvenience” but, because they were both fit and well, they had “been able to cope”.

Other passengers had faced much more difficult circumstances, he said, such as getting ill or being split up from their partners.

“When I think of other people – like those on the inside cabins who have got no daylight coming in at all – it’s horrific really,” he added.

Those passengers who are fit to fly home from the Diamond Princess will do so, while any Briton confirmed with the virus will stay in Japan for treatment.

Passengers brought back to the UK on Friday’s evacuation flight will be taken to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral for 14 days of quarantine.

Meanwhile, Britons in Cambodia who left another cruise ship, the Westerdam, and who have been cleared for travel are being assisted by the Foreign Office to make their way home.

The group are receiving health advice and being helped with commercial flight bookings. All have tested negative after one case was diagnosed on board.

Passengers leave the Westerdam
Passengers leave the Westerdam (Heng Sinith/AP)

The number of Britons in the group has not been disclosed, and it is unclear whether some have already come back to the UK.

Public Health England (PHE) said airport health teams will meet the flights and speak to Westerdam passengers about any symptoms.

If they do not have symptoms, passengers will be given health advice and told to self-isolate at home for 14 days, PHE said.

But if they have symptoms, they will be taken to hospital for testing.

WHO is working with an international network of statisticians & mathematical modelers to estimate key epidemiologic parameters of #COVID19, such as the incubation period, case fatality ratio, serial interval.

WHO Situation Report 19 February

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 19, 2020

Meanwhile, the European Commission has announced the EU will be financing the repatriation of citizens from any of the EU27 still stuck on the Diamond Princess.

As of 2pm on Wednesday, a total of 5,216 people in the UK have been tested for coronavirus, of whom nine have tested positive.

There have been more than 74,000 confirmed infections recorded in mainland China and about 700 cases in other countries.

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