Plans to repatriate dozens of Britons, trapped onboard a Princess Cruises ship quarantined off the cost of Japan owing to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, have been delayed.
A Foreign Office rescue flight, which had been due to depart Tokyo on Friday (21 February), will now take off Saturday (22 February) the BBC reports, citing the British Embassy.
The ship was placed under formal quarantine in Yokohama for two weeks starting 5 February, with more than 600 guests eventually testing positive for the infection.
It came after a guest, who disembarked in Hong Kong, tested positive for the infection at the start of the month.
Guests began disembarking earlier this week after the quarantine was lifted on Wednesday (19 February), subject to stringent medical checks by Japanese health authorities and potential further quarantine measures upon returning to their home countries.
It is understood nearly 80 Britons endured the 16-day quarantine onboard the ship. It is unclear how many will return on Saturday’s flight; those who do will be flown to a military base in Wiltshire before being taken to a dedicated quarantine facility at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.
The UK quarantine measures mimic those faced by Britons who returned from the Chinese city of Wuhan earlier this year, where the outbreak is thought to have originated.
Any guests who have tested positive for the virus, or have shown signs of infection, will not be allowed to return on the repatriation flight.