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More coronavirus evacuees quarantined while others get ready for release

Tettenhall | Health | Published:

One group is spending its first day in isolation in Merseyside while another is set to be freed from a conference centre in Milton Keynes.

Wendy Marshall Steele and Alan Steele moved their wedding forward to honeymoon on the Diamond Princess. Photo: Amanda Reynolds

As dozens of evacuees from a coronavirus-hit cruise ship begin their two-week quarantine in the UK, more than 100 others rescued from China are due to be released from isolation.

Thirty-two people, who spent more than two weeks trapped on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan, are settling in at an accommodation block at Arrowe Park hospital on the Wirral – their home for the next 14 days.

The group – reportedly made up of 30 Britons and two Irish nationals – will undergo regular health checks while in quarantine.

Some made gestures from their coaches as they arrived at the Merseyside facility on Saturday evening – one forming a heart symbol with her hands and another an OK signal.

Meanwhile, a group who have spent the past two weeks holed up in a centre in Milton Keynes are due to be allowed home on Sunday.

Around 150 people, who arrived in the UK on February 9 on an evacuation flight from the virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan, have been staying at the Kents Hill Park training and conference centre.

They too will have been regularly tested and as of Saturday afternoon the Department of Health said no new cases of coronavirus had been detected in the UK.

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All of those who arrived at Arrowe Park tested negative to having Covid-19 before flying back to the UK on a repatriation flight.

Coronavirus.
Passengers signalled they were OK as they arrived at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside (Danny Lawson/PA)

The four Britons on board the Diamond Princess who have recently tested positive for coronavirus were not on the flight.

Arrowe Park was previously used to host 83 British nationals for a 14-day quarantine period earlier in February and a health official said they now have a “blueprint” for how to handle the new arrivals.

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Wirral Teaching Hospital NHS Trust chief executive Janelle Holmes said the group will be “safe, well-managed and comfortable” during their stay.

The previous group of evacuees were provided with fully furnished rooms, food and laundry facilities, as well as PlayStations, Xboxes and children’s toys.

Honeymooner Alan Steele, who was originally from Little Drayton but now lives with his new wife Wendy in Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, was diagnosed with Covid-19 and has since been given the all-clear.

He said he was his "last nerve” after travelling for hours to get back to the UK.

Posting on Facebook on Saturday evening he wrote: “29 hours travelling and we are still being held up by beurocrats with clipboard am on my last nerve now.” (sic)

Alan Steele has spoken publicly for the first time since being released from hospital. Photo: Sky News

Ahead of the flight he had joked that the stay in Arrowe Park might be like a holiday camp, after he and his wife Wendy tested negative for the virus.

He wrote: “Wendy’s test was negative so ‘Butlins the Wirral’ here we come for 14 days.”

Since being kept on board the cruise liner in the port of Yokohama, more than 600 passengers and crew have been infected.

It is understood some British nationals who are part of the Diamond Princess crew opted to remain.

One British couple on board who were diagnosed with coronavirus have both since been diagnosed with pneumonia.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

The family of David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, who were were on the cruise for their 50th wedding anniversary, said they had been moved to a “prison”-like hospital in Japan.

Mr Abel has been diagnosed with acute pneumonia while Mrs Abel has a mild case. Relatives have criticised the Foreign Office’s efforts to help and said they want the pair back home.

Britons in Cambodia who left another cruise ship, the Westerdam, and who have been cleared for travel, are also being assisted by the Foreign Office to make their way home.

All have tested negative after one case was diagnosed on board.

In a bid to help stop the spread of the virus in the UK, the health service is piloting home testing for where NHS staff, including nurses and paramedics, will visit people in their own homes.

More than 77,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed across the world, the majority of which are in China.

World Health Organisation statistics on Saturday showed there had been more than 2,300 deaths in China and 11 elsewhere.

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