News The pressure is growing to save the British on...

The pressure is growing to save the British on a liner infected by the coronavirus


The British government is under increasing pressure to transport British citizens stranded on a coronavirus-infested cruise ship, as a Chinese tourist in France was the first to die of the disease in Europe yesterday.

The United States announced late Friday that it would evacuate more than 400 of its nationals from the quarantined Diamond Princess, which has reported nearly 300 confirmed Covid-19 cases, and British travelers have asked their government to do the same.

“I am very disillusioned with the UK,” said David Abel, who has broadcast livestreams from the battered ship that has been held in Yokohama’s Japanese port since February 3. He has asked the government – and even billionaire Richard Branson – to save him, his wife Sally, and other British citizens.

“It is wonderful how Americans get home on two planes,” he said after the US decision was announced, but added that he had little hope of a similar rescue. “I honestly haven’t given up on anyone in the UK now.”

When asked if Britain was planning an evacuation, a Foreign Office spokesman said officials “work around the clock to ensure the well-being of British nationals on board”.

In the UK, all but one of the nine patients treated for coronavirus were discharged from the hospital after recovery from the disease, the NHS said. 94 people who were flown from Wuhan two weeks ago were released from quarantine after completing all tests.

Worldwide, the disease has infected over 68,000 people and killed more than 1,600 people, although only four deaths have occurred outside of mainland China – in Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and now in France.

The man who died in Paris from a lung infection caused by Covid-19 was an 80-year-old tourist. He arrived in France on January 16 and was taken to an isolation unit in the hospital on January 25. His daughter also fell ill, but is expected to recover.

© Provided by The Guardian
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, said it was impossible to tell where the virus would spread. Photo: Andreas Gebert / Reuters

The first case in Africa was reported in Egypt on Friday with no further details immediately available. Before the case was announced, health officials across the continent – where many countries have close economic and political ties to China – had prepared for the disease, set up test centers, and prepared treatment plans.

As everywhere in the world, there were fears that health systems could be overwhelmed if a massive outbreak of magnitude broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the center of the crisis.

“There was concern about the effects of the coronavirus outbreak when it arrived in Africa,” said Dr. Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow for Global Health at the University of Southampton. “So it’s reassuring that there was quick contact tracking [in Egypt] and all contacts were tested negative. This gives confidence that this could be an isolated case with minimal transfer. “

The head of the World Health Organization said on Saturday that it was impossible to say where the epidemic would spread. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the Munich Security Conference in Germany that despite China’s encouraging efforts, he was concerned about the increasing number of cases.

Related Slideshow: Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19) (provided by Photo Services)

The rate of new infections had appeared to be slowing last week, but changes in the way China counts cases led to a significant leap in the number of patients and has confused international researchers trying to track the disease.

Inside China, the government has urged people to start returning to work, as weeks of shutdown and fear have taken a heavy toll on the economy. But controls have been stepped up to halt the spread of the disease, with anyone travelling to the capital Beijing required to spend 14 days in self-quarantine after arrival.

President Xi Jinping has called for more policing to stop hoarding, and more controls of online discussions about the outbreak.

While most cases are inside China, the growing numbers of infections – and some deaths – beyond its borders have added to panic about how easily the disease spreads.

Among recently diagnosed cases was an American passenger traveling on a cruise ship that became notorious because, although it had no reported sickness on board at the time, it had been turned away from ports in five countries before passengers were finally allowed to disembark in Cambodia.

The 83-year-old female holidaymaker tested positive in Malaysia, where she had flown along with 144 others from the ship on Friday. The woman’s husband tested negative for the disease, Malaysia’s health ministry added.

Kreuzfahrtschiffe wurden nach der raschen Ausbreitung der Krankheit auf der Diamond Princess zu einem besorgniserregenden Thema. Its passengers have been isolated in their rooms since 3 February after a man who had disembarked in Hong Kong days earlier was diagnosed with the virus.

The cruise liner’s quarantine is set to end on Wednesday, but with new cases being discovered regularly there have been questions about whether that could be extended.

The US’s offer to take citizens home came with a warning that if they did not take it up, they would not be able to go home “for a period of time”.

The American planes will arrive on Sunday, and US passengers will be screened before they can board. Jeder mit Symptomen wird in Japan behandelt; the rest will face another 14 days’ quarantine when they return home.


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