Coronavirus-hit cruise ship rocked by 99 new cases as British passengers set to fly home

The Diamond Princess was quarantined in Yokohama nearly two weeks ago by Japanese authorities after a Hong Kong passenger tested positive for the virus. Passengers, who have been confined to their cabins, are expected to have the quarantine lifted on Wednesday, February 19. But the Daily Mail has reported another 99 passengers have tested positive for the virus again.

This means that out of a total of 1,723 of those people have now been tested, 454 have been found to have the virus overall. 

The latest figures come as Downing Street confirmed that more than 70 Britons stranded the ship could be flown home.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “We sympathise with all those caught up in this extremely difficult situation.

“The Foreign Office is in contact with all British people on the Diamond Princess, including to establish interest in a possible repatriation flight.

“We are urgently considering all options to guarantee the health and safety of those on board.”

Dr Sylvie Briand, director of pandemic and epidemic diseases at the WHO, said they are working “very closely” with the Japanese authorities regarding the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked off the coast of Japan.

She told a briefing: “We need to make sure that we focus on our objective, our public health objective, which is to contain the virus, and not to contain the people.

“And making sure that we can have the right balance between the health of the population in Japan and other countries, but also the health of the people being currently on this boat.

“And so we need to have those balances and it’s currently quite difficult because there are still many unknowns on this virus.

“And so measures are implemented and assessed currently and monitored on a nearly hourly basis, because we learn every day and every hour more about this disease and this virus.”

The Foreign Office has faced mounting pressure to evacuate the British nationals after more than 300 American passengers were repatriated to the US.

Public Health England is also set to issue guidance telling schools they do not need to close or send people home if there is a suspected coronavirus case.

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Meanwhile, the death toll from the virus in mainland China has risen by 105 to 1,770.

The number of people infected globally stands at more than 71,000, according to figures announced on Monday morning.

The government has also booked out a Holiday Inn to use as a quarantine venue.

The Holiday Inn Heathrow Ariel could be used to house anyone arriving into the UK who is thought to be at risk of potentially spreading the Covid-19 virus.

It will also help those who have nowhere else to go to self-isolate.

This could include people arriving from some parts of Asia, including China.

People will also be able to stay at the hotel while their coronavirus tests are carried out and the results are processed.

Anyone with the virus will still be sent to a specialist infectious disease centre run by NHS hospitals.

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