Dozens of British guests trapped onboard a Princess Cruises ship quarantined off the coast of Japan owing to the coronavirus outbreak could be flown home later this week, the Foreign Office has said.
Guests began disembarking Diamond Princess on Wednesday (19 February) after the ship was held in the Japanese port of Yokohama for more than a fortnight in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
The ship was detained on 3 February with 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew onboard, more than 500 of whom have since tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus.
FCO officials are working on an “evacuation flight” from Tokyo back to the UK, which the FCO said it was hopeful of operating “later this week” subject to permission from the Japanese authorities.
However, an FCO spokesperson, cited by the national press, said there was a chance people who disembark the ship “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,” the spokesperson added.
The government is yet to clarify via either the FCO or the Department of Health whether returning passengers will be required to complete another period of quarantine.
Britons repatriated earlier this month from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak is understood to have originated, were held at facilities on the Wirral and in Milton Keynes for two weeks.