Coronavirus cases now nearly number 100,000, with a total of 75,000 confirmed infections as of February 19. The UK has seen nine total cases of the disease within its borders, with more British residents diagnosed while holidaying abroad the cruise ship Diamond Princess.
When will quarantined Britons return to the UK?
The Diamond Princess, a vessel carrying a total of 2,666 passengers around East Asia, was quarantined in Tokyo at the beginning of the month.
People aboard the liner embarked for a two-week pleasure cruise through China, Vietnam and Taiwan, but ended up at the heart of the COVID-19 epidemic.
More than 600 people on the ship tested positive for the disease, accounting for more than half of cases outside of China.
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Those on board the ship included 74 British nationals, some of whom were also diagnosed with the virus.
Today, passengers who tested negative for the virus from other nations have started to disembark, and Britons may leave “as soon as possible”.
The Government has warned people from the UK to stay aboard the Diamond Princess if possible, as the Foreign Office warned they may not be able to board a repatriation flight back to Britain.
According to the BBC, they may encounter logistical or administrative problems within Japan which could prevent them from catching the scheduled flights.
An FCO statement read: “We are planning an evacuation flight from Tokyo to the UK as soon as possible for Britons who are on the Diamond Princess.
“We hope the flight will be later this week, subject to permissions from the Japanese authorities.
“However there is a chance that people who disembark will not be able to join the evacuation flight.
“We have the utmost concern for the affected Britons and strongly encourage them to register for the evacuation flight.”
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The Government announced it had set aside accommodation for British residents returning from the Diamond Princess.
A block at the Arrowe Park hospital on the Wirral, where two previous returning groups from China were quarantined, is available for returning Brits.
There, they will undergo two weeks of isolation, enough time for COVID-19 symptoms to arise and pass.
Those who develop symptoms on the flight home from Tokyo will go to hospital.
Two British residents, couple David and Sally Abel, were diagnosed with COVID-19 this week.
However, they said they are yet to receive any hospital treatment for the virus.
In a Facebook update, Mr Abel said they will go to a hostel for “four to five” days after they leave the cruise liner until a hospital bed becomes available.
He added they both felt “fine” despite their diagnosis.
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