Latest UK virus flight leaves Japan

A repatriation flight carrying 32 British and European evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship is due to arrive in the UK on Saturday morning after departing from Japan late on Friday.

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

The plane is due to land at Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence base, near Salisbury in Wiltshire, with passengers to then be taken to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral for 14 days of quarantine.

It is unclear where the small number of EU citizens will be taken once the plane lands in the UK.

HEALTH Coronavirus
Covid-19: confirmed cases. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic PA Graphics

The evacuees have spent more than two weeks trapped on the coronavirus-stricken ship off the coast of Japan.

Before the flight, one passenger who was diagnosed with Covid-19 and has since been given the all-clear, joked that the experience would be like visiting a holiday camp.

Honeymooner Alan Steele was taken to a Japanese hospital and has since tested negative for the virus and been reunited with wife Wendy.

“Wendy’s test was negative so Butlins the Wirral here we come for 14 days,” Mr Steele posted on Facebook.

Since being kept on board the cruise liner in the port of Yokohama, a total of 634 passengers and crew have been infected, accounting for more than half of all the confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China.

It is understood some British nationals who are part of the Diamond Princess crew opted to remain.

Some British nationals who were passengers did not register for the flight. It is understood some have returned to their homes overseas, while a number boarded an evacuation flight to Hong Kong where they live.

The four Britons on board the Diamond Princess who have tested positive for coronavirus were not on the flight.

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

All have tested negative after one case was diagnosed on board.

In order to help combat the spread of the virus in the UK, the NHS has started pilots of home testing for coronavirus where NHS staff, including nurses and paramedics, will visit people in their own homes.

Nebraska Coronavirus Outbreak
A number of other countries, including America and Australia, have already evacuated infected citizens from Japan (Z Long/Omaha World-Herald via AP)

Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director for coronavirus, said home testing was a way to limit the spread of infection.

“Anyone who is concerned they have signs and symptoms, should continue to use NHS 111 as their first point of contact – they will tell you exactly what you need to do and where necessary, the right place to be tested,” Professor Willett said.

“People should also play their part by following public health advice – wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze, and put used tissues in the bin immediately.”

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