Journalists gather to film the quarantined ship Diamond Princess, background, at Yokohama port in Yokohama. Picture: AP
Journalists gather to film the quarantined ship Diamond Princess, background, at Yokohama port in Yokohama. Picture: AP

Briton on stranded cruise ship: 'I’ve never felt less loved by my own country'

By JAMES TOZER AND SOPHIE BORLAND Time of article published Feb 17, 2020

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London - A British man marooned on a luxury cruise ship with coronavirus on Sunday claimed he had "never felt less loved by my own country" as fellow passengers of other nationalities were evacuated home.

Along with almost 80 other Britons, 73-year-old David Abel and his wife Sally have been confined to their cabins on the Diamond Princess for over ten days as it languishes in quarantine off a Japanese port.

The vessel has been hit by more than 350 cases of the virus among the 3 600 passengers and crew.

On Sunday night around 300 American passengers were evacuated from the ship at the port of Yokohama after US officials chartered planes to fly them home where they will go back into quarantine.

But despite officials from Canada and Hong Kong preparing similar rescues for their citizens, there had been no equivalent announcement for UK nationals on Sunday night.

Slamming the failure to help them, Abel – who has not been diagnosed with the virus – said they were being "treated like trash". "Don’t you want the English people home?" he demanded.

"I am always proud to be British but this now – it’s gone beyond a joke, I’ve never felt less loved by my own country."

The Foreign Office is understood to be deliberating over World Health Organisation advice which suggests patients in quarantine shouldn’t be repatriated, in case they import the virus back to the UK. 

At the same time, officials are weighing up the safety and welfare of the British passengers, many of whom are elderly or have chronic health conditions.

They include Abel, who has Type 1 diabetes and was previously concerned he would fall into a coma if he wasn’t given regular meals. Their two-week quarantine is meant to end this Wednesday and should this go ahead, Princess Cruises, which owns the Diamond Princess, will then arrange for them to be transported to airports and flown home.

But as there have now been 355 coronavirus cases on the ship – the highest cluster of infections outside China – the Japanese authorities may decide to extend the isolation period for at least two more weeks.

An FCO spokesperson said they were "actively considering all options" and "working around the clock to ensure the welfare of the British nationals on board".

Daily Mail

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