Coronavirus-hit Brits on Diamond Princess cruise ship: 'I doubt we'll be on evacuation flight'

Bronwen Weatherby

A British couple diagnosed with coronavirus after being on board a cruise ship in Japan have said they doubt they will be put on the evacuation flight to the UK.

David Abel and his wife Sally have been posting video diary updates from the Diamond Princess while the cruise ship was under quarantine due to the virus outbreak.

Global interest: David Abel, who is on board Diamond Princess with his wife Sally, has been posting updates on social media


In a video on Tuesday, Mr Abel revealed they had been diagnosed with coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, but appeared to cast doubt on the diagnosis when he described the situation as a "setup" in a Facebook post.

However, in a new YouTube video, he said: “We’ve since spoken to a doctor that speaks English, and we’ve had to really press hard for that, and it has been confirmed by him we are both positive."

The Foreign Office confirmed on Wednesday that it plans to fly the Britons back "later this week", but Mr Abel has said he does not believe he and his wife will be on the flight.

David Abel and his wife Sally (PA)

“We are going to a hostel because there isn’t a hospital bed anywhere around," he added.

"So, we’re going to a hostel and in four or five days we’ll be removed from the hostel and put into a hospital, where we will receive treatment.

“So I can’t see that there’s going to be any way we’re on that flight to the UK.”

The couple have been using the videos to put pressure on the Government to rescue Brits who were stranded on the ship.

In his latest video, Mr Abel explained why there had been less frequent video updates, saying he was "distraught" after testing positive for the virus.

Following their diagnosis, Mr Abel wrote in a Facebook post: "There is going to be a time of quiet. We have been proved positive and leaving for hospital soon. Blessings all."

Mr Abel also used the latest post to quash online claims disputing that the couple are on board the virus-hit ship.

A bus carrying the passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leaves a port in Yokohama (AP)

He said: "Everybody who has made a comment you don't believe it's me, unless you apologise publicly on Facebook you're going to be removed - I'm sorry. You are totally wrong.

"Everything that has appeared on my Facebook account is absolutely true, it was written by me."

He ended the clip by thanking those who had supported them and said they would no longer be posting regular updates as their reason for doing so - to get Brits evacuated - had been fulfilled.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Foreign Office said it hopes an evacuation flight for Brits on the ship will be scheduled for “later this week”.

A spokesman 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.

“At 0700 local time on Wednesday, the Diamond Princess cruise operator and Japanese authorities allowed passengers to disembark from the cruise ship. However, there is a chance that people who disembark will not be able to join the evacuation flight.

“We have the utmost concern for the affected Britons and strongly encourage them to register for the evacuation flight.”

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