Published on Monday, February 17, 2020

Richard Branson 'in talks' with Govt over bringing Diamond Princess Brits home

Sir Richard Branson has tweeted that he has been talking to the UK Government about bringing 74 British passengers and crew on board Diamond Princess back home.

The Virgin founder was responding to a social media plea by passenger David Abel, who asked him to step in.

He 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."

Mr Abel and his wife Sally have since been confirmed with the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, ministers have said they are 'considering all options' to repatriate the British people on board.

More than 450 people on board the ship have now been diagnosed with the illness.

Pressure is mounting on the Government to take action, as British passengers on board say they feel abandoned.

The US authorities have repatriated more than 300 American citizens off the ship, 14 of whom tested positive for the virus before getting on the plane, but were allowed to travel in isolation from the other passengers. All others will stay in quarantine for 14 days in the US.

Other countries including Canada, Australia, Italy, South Korea and Israel have all made plans to evacuate their citizens from the ship.

Mr Abel described Sir Richard as 'the guy who could resolve this for the Brits'.

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

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

Latest figures reveal over 71,000 people have now caught the virus and 1,775 have died. China reported 2,048 new cases on Monday.

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