Coronavirus: Japan to trial HIV retroviral drugs on patients – latest news

By Aamna Mohdin (now) and Martin Farrer (earlier)

04:19

Updated

03:30

Updated

03:07

David and Sally Abel, a British couple onboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan, have tested positive for coronavirus, a day before passengers who tested negative were due to start leaving the ship after spending two weeks in quarantine.

Abel, who has uploaded daily videos from the couple’s cabin on social media, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon (local time): “There is going to be a time of quiet. We have been proved positive and leaving for hospital soon. Blessings all xxx.”

The Abels’ diagnosis came as the British government said it was preparing to send a plane to Japan to repatriate about 70 British nationals from the ship, which has been moored off Yokohama, near Tokyo, since 3 February. The vessel, originally carrying 3,700 passengers and crew, was quarantined after a previous passenger tested positive for Covid-19 at the end of last month.

Abel has used his video posts to apply pressure on Britain to evacuate its citizens. The US has evacuated more than 300 citizens, while Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea and Canada have said they will follow suit.

The Foreign Office said: “Given the conditions onboard, we are working to organise a flight back to the UK for British nationals on the Diamond Princess as soon as possible. Our staff are contacting British nationals on board to make the necessary arrangements. We urge all those who have not yet responded to get in touch immediately.”

Japanese health authorities said on Tuesday they had collected samples from everyone on the ship and that the planned evacuation of passengers who tested negative would begin as scheduled on Wednesday and be completed by the end of the week.

By Monday, 454 people on the ship had tested positive, but the final number of infections onboard has not been announced. Four Britons with confirmed coronavirus are currently in hospital in Japan, according to the latest official figures.

Among the remaining passengers and crew, those whose tests come back negative will be allowed to leave, while those found to be infected will be treated at hospitals in Japan. However, people who had close contact with those who have tested positive will have their quarantine reset to the date of their last contact with an infected person.

The large number of cases onboard the Diamond Princess has prompted criticism of Japan’s decision to keep everyone on the ship throughout the two-week quarantine. But the government’s top spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters on Tuesday the measure had been “appropriate”.

Updated

02:57

Updated

02:48

Updated

02:39

Updated

02:23

British couple quarantined on ship test positive

Updated

01:56

00:58

HSBC lowers Asian economic forecast due to virus