THIRTY Brits trapped on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship in Japan for 17 days arrived back in the UK yesterday.
Pictures show the group being given a police escort as they prepare for two weeks in quarantine at a Merseyside hospital after flying in from Tokyo.
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The plane, carrying the group and two Irish citizens from the Diamond Princess ship, landed at Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence base, Wilts. after leaving Japan late Friday.
Three coaches then took them to Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral, arriving at 6pm on Saturday.
One masked passenger made a heart sign with her hands. Another gave an “OK”.
Medics in hazmat suits sat with them.
The quarantined group from Japan have so far tested negative.
Alan Sandford — stuck in a cabin off Yokohama with wife Vanessa since February 3 — said: “I may struggle with these 14 days. But I understand people being nervous.”
But Alan Steele, from Wolverhampton — back with wife Wendy after recovering from the virus in Japan — joked: “Butlins the Wirral here we come.”
The hospital said it has a “blueprint” for the arrivals after earlier housing 83 Brits from Wuhan, China – where the outbreak started.
The Foreign Office said the evacuation flight also had British government and medical staff on board.
Passengers are now to be taken to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral for 14 days of quarantine.
Inside Arrowe Park they'll stay in basic dormitories, kitted out with all the essentials including toiletries and fresh underwear.
Those who want to prepare and cook their own meals will also have access to kitchens.
Previous patients quarantined in Arrowe Park were given games consoles and other gadgets to keep them amused.
While takeaways including KFC and Tesco shopping bags were also spotted being delivered to the emergency accomodation.
It comes as:
One couple trapped on the cruise kept a chilling diary of their £7k holiday hell.
Elaine and John Spencer from Sheerness, Kent, were imprisoned in a windowless cabin for almost 24 hours a day in the Port of Yokohama.
Businesswoman Elaine, 54, 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."
The evacuees have spent more than two weeks trapped on the coronavirus-stricken ship off the coast of Japan.
Before the flight, one passenger who was diagnosed with the deadly bug and has since been given the all-clear, joked that the experience would be like visiting a holiday camp.
Honeymooner Alan Steele was taken to a Japanese hospital and has since tested negative for the virus and been reunited with wife Wendy.
"Wendy's test was negative so Butlins the Wirral here we come for 14 days," Mr Steele posted on Facebook.
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HOLIDAY FROM HELL
Since being kept on board the cruise liner in the port of Yokohama, a total of 634 passengers and crew have been infected, accounting for more than half of all the confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China.
It is understood some British nationals who are part of the Diamond Princess crew opted to remain.
One couple who were diagnosed with coronavirus have both since been diagnosed with pneumonia.
The family of David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, said they have now been moved to a "prison"-like hospital.
The couple were on the cruise for their 50th wedding anniversary when it was placed into quarantine.
Mr Abel has been diagnosed with acute pneumonia, while Mrs Abel has a mild case.
Although they were originally in a hospital just 90 minutes from the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship, Mrs Abel called her son in the middle of the night to say the couple were suddenly being moved to a different "three-star" hospital.
Some British nationals who were passengers did not register for the flight. It is understood some have returned to their homes overseas, while a number boarded an evacuation flight to Hong Kong where they live.
The four Britons on board the Diamond Princess who have tested positive for coronavirus were not on the flight.
Meanwhile, 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 order to help combat the spread of the virus in the UK, the NHS has started pilots of home testing for coronavirus where NHS staff, including nurses and paramedics, will visit people in their own homes.
Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director for coronavirus, said home testing was a way to limit the spread of infection.
"Anyone who is concerned they have signs and symptoms, should continue to use NHS 111 as their first point of contact - they will tell you exactly what you need to do and where necessary, the right place to be tested," Professor Willett said.
"People should also play their part by following public health advice - wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze, and put used tissues in the bin immediately."
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