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Published on Tuesday, February 18, 2020

British couple who pleaded to be rescued from Diamond Princess diagnosed with coronavirus






A British couple who pleaded with the government to rescue them from the quarantined Diamond Princess have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.


David Abel, who has been providing regular updates about the situation on Facebook, said he and his wife Sally were being removed from the ship.


His latest post came as the Foreign Office said it was working to bring home the 74 British nationals onboard the Diamond Princess and urged anyone who hadn't already got in touch to do so.


Mr Abel said he and his wife were being removed from the ship to a hostel, not a medical facility, which he said made him doubt the diagnosis.


He wrote on Facebook: "Frankly I think this is a setup! We are NOT being taken to a hospital but a hostel. That's where partners are sent waiting out their quarantine.


"No phone, no wi-fi and no medical facilities. I really am smelling a very big rat here! Waiting for the transfer now.."


When asked if he was sure the test for COVID-19 was positive, Mr Abel replied: "I doubt it was positive. If it was, we would be in hospital."


The Foreign Office says it is 'working to organise a flight' home for British nationals trapped on the ship and it said they are 'strongly encouraged to take it'.


Those in quarantine on the Diamond Princess are being contacted to make the necessary arrangements, with a spokesperson adding: "We urge all those who have not yet responded to get in touch immediately."


The Foreign Office had come under pressure to fly them home after the US chartered two planes to repatriate 340 of its citizens - 14 of whom had been diagnosed with coronavirus. They were seated separately on the flight. Oher countries have also made arrangements to bring home their citizens from the Diamond Princess.


Approximately half of all known cases of coronavirus outside China are on the cruise ship. About 450 people - including four Britons - have tested positive since it was ordered to stay under quarantine for 14 days from February 13.


In a letter to those still stranded, the FCO said: "We strongly encourage British nationals on board Diamond Princess, or those passengers now in separate quarantine accommodation ashore, to take this opportunity to return to the UK on this flight.


"If you disembark from the ship before this British government organised evacuation, there is a risk that you may find it difficult to return by other commercial means."


Diamond Princess passengers won't be charged for the flight but they will need to complete 14 days of 'supported isolation' in the UK.


Those on board have been given until 11am UK time to express an interest in taking the flight.


 

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