Diamond Princess captain: Today is the day youve been waiting for…
Published on Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Passengers have begun to disembark from the Diamond Princess after the two-week quarantine of the coronavirus-hit ship came to an end.
Earlier today, the ship’s captain made a public announcement on the ship saying: “For some, today is the day you’ve been waiting for.”
The Foreign Office said it is trying to charter a flight home for the 74 British nationals who were among the 3,700-plus people who were stranded while the ship was forced to remain off the coast of Japan.
However, it said there is a chance that people who disembark will not be able to join the evacuation flight. British passenger David Abel said he ‘can’t see there is any way’ that he and his wife Sally will be on the flight after they were diagnosed with COVID-19. In his latest Facebook update, he confirmed an English-speaking doctor had assured him that although he and Sally felt well they both had the coronavirus.
He said the couple were going to be taken to a hostel for a few days then transferred to a hospital once there is space.
Two other Brits onboard are among the 540-plus passengers and crew to have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Earlier this week Mr Abel made a public appeal to the British government to rescue passengers from the ship, and although he is unlikely to be on the rescue flight home, Mr Abel said ‘he had done his job’.
In a statement, the Foreign Office said it would charter a flight back to the UK from Tokyo.
“We hope the flight will be later this week, subject to permissions from the Japanese authorities,” a spokesman said last night.
“We have the utmost concern for the affected Britons and strongly encourage them to register for the evacuation flight.”
Around 500 passengers are expected to leave the ship today, and the evacuation process should be complete by Friday.
The US has already evacuated 300 of its citizens on two charter flights; other countries are also organising charter flights for their citizens this week.
Meanwhile the Japanese have been criticised for their handling of the medical crisis onboard the ship, with medics claiming the quarantine measures onboard were insufficient to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.