Four Diamond Princess passengers, who were flown back to the UK at the weekend after a fortnight’s quarantine onboard the ship off the coast of Japan, have tested positive for coronavirus.
They were among 30 British guests and two Irish passengers repatriated from Tokyo on Saturday (22 February) where the ship has been held under quarantine since the start of the month.
All 32 evacuees embarked on a further 14-day quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral upon their return.
Those who have since tested positive for the virus have been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres.
The news was confirmed by chief medical officer Chris Whitty. It brings the total number of confirmed Covid-19 coronavirus cases in the UK to 13.
“Four further patients in England have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 13,” said Whitty.
“The virus was passed on in the Diamond Princess cruise ship and the patients are being transferred from Arrowe [Hill] Park to specialist NHS infection centres.”
Two patients have been taken to Royal Hallamshire in Sheffield, one to the Royal in Liverpool, while a fourth has been transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director for coronavirus, said: “These specialist centres are well prepared to deal with cases. Earlier this year, the Newcastle unit successfully treated and discharged two patients who had contracted the virus."
The NHS and Public Health England continue to place the risk to individuals in the UK as "low". Any of the other 28 passengers who develop symptoms of the infection will be taken into specialist NHS care.