A BRITISH couple trapped for 17 days on a coronavirus-ravaged cruise liner after spending £7,000 on the trip kept a chilling diary of their holiday hell.
Elaine and John Spencer are among 32 Brits from ‘plague ship’ the Diamond Princess due to land in the UK on a rescue flight from Japan this morning.
The couple from Sheerness, Kent, were imprisoned in a windowless cabin for almost 24 hours a day in the Port of Yokohama.
Two of the vessel’s passengers died and 634 passengers and crew were infected with the deadly bug.
The British embassy contacted passengers on February 18 to say they would be repatriated, but be put in quarantine for 14 days in Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral, Merseyside.
Businesswoman Elaine, 54, kept a terrifying diary of their ordeal since February 3.
BRIT COUPLE’S CORONAVIRUS HELL
She told ITV News: “It’s been a bit of an ordeal.
“I would say thank you so much to the UK government that eventually decided to do something and help us and get all Brits home.
“We look forward to seeing our family hopefully in two weeks once we land and once we are out of quarantine.”
In her diary entry on February 3, Elaine wrote that passengers were told in a letter that a former passenger had tested positive for coronavirus.
The next day, a tannoy announcement ordered the 3,700 passengers to return to their cabin, with ten more people diagnosed.
It’s been a bit of an ordeal. We look forward to seeing our family once we are out of quarantine
By February 5, Elaine feared their cabin was ‘now our prison’ before they docked in Yokohama the next day.
The number of passengers infected had risen to 41 by Friday, with 60 more cases announced the following Monday.
Terrified passengers were stranded onboard as numbers of those infected rose to more than 355 in the following days, with Elaine revealing in her diary they were tested for coronavirus on February 13.
On Thursday, Elaine wrote that their evacuation arrangements ‘descended into farce’ as they packed for Friday’s flight before their test results were back.
The British rescue plane is due to land at Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence base, near Salisbury in Wiltshire this morning.
Four Brits who tested positive for coronavirus are not on the flight.
It came after the first European died from the coronavirus in Italy last night.
Passengers who had tested negative for the virus were first released from quarantine on Wednesday, but the Foreign Office had warned Brits to stay on board if they wanted to join the upcoming evacuation flight.
Footage shot by Sky News on Friday night local time showed Brits stepping off the ship and boarding buses lined up along side the ship.
Before the flight, they will reportedly undergo “fit to fly” checks.
Only those who test negative for coronavirus and are not showing any symptoms will be allowed to board.
Once the flight arrives back in the UK, the passengers will be taken to the Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral for a further 14 days in quarantine.
‘CONCERNED FOR EVERYONE AFFECTED’
In a statement earlier this week, the Foreign Office said: “We are planning an evacuation flight from Tokyo to the UK as soon as possible for Britons who are on the Diamond Princess.
“We hope the flight will be later this week, subject to permissions from the Japanese authorities.
“We have the utmost concern for the affected Britons and strongly encourage them to register for the evacuation flight.”
The coronavirus outbreak has spread to more than 25 countries since beginning in mid-December in the city of Wuhan in eastern China.
The number of confirmed cases now exceeds 75,000, and some 2,247 have died.
Of the 78 Brits who were on the Diamond Princess when the first case was uncovered, four later tested positive.
In total, more than 620 people on the ship were diagnosed with the condition.
A number of scientists have criticised the handling of the outbreak, saying that locking down the ship with so many people on board meant it became an incubator for the virus.
Authorities in Japan have defended the approach.
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