Four cruise ship passengers who were flown back to the UK via Japan this weekend have tested positive for coronavirus.
The confirmation they have contracted the virus brings the number of people with Covid-19 in the UK up to 13.
England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, said the patients caught the virus onboard the Diamond Princess. The cruise ship had been held for more than two weeks off the coast of Japan.
The patients are being transferred from Arrowe Park hospital in Wirral, Merseyside, to specialist NHS infection centres.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said “a full infectious disease risk assessment” was done before Saturday’s flight back from Japan and stressed that no one who boarded the flight had displayed any symptoms of the virus.
A total of 32 passengers – 30 British and two Irish citizens – were taken to the Arrowe Park hospital after their plane touched down in England.
Janelle Holmes, chief executive at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, reassured staff that the hospital was “running as usual.”
“When guests arrived yesterday evening, we followed clear guidance in relation to infection prevention control. This was to minimise the chance of any infection spreading,” she said.
A number of other UK nationals who were onboard the Diamond Princess were evacuated to Australia. They included Northern Irish singer Rebecca Harkin who was part of the music entertainment team.
Harkin, who is from Derry but lives across the border in County Donegal, said she and her partner were healthy and safe but would remain in Australia for the next two weeks.
Read more : The Guardian