Coronavirus: English man from Diamond Princess cruise first Briton to die from illness

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A British man has become the first UK citizen to die from coronavirus after being infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

He is the sixth passenger to die from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, Japan’s health ministry said.

Hundreds of people on board the liner became infected while it was held in quarantine off the port of Yokohama earlier this month.

It comes as the number of coronavirus cases in the UK rose to 19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee on Monday in response to a growing number of cases in Europe.

Earlier on Friday, three more cases of the virus were confirmed in the UK, including the first one in Wales.

Two new patients in England contracted the virus while in Iran, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Public Health Wales said it was working to identify close contacts of the Welsh patient, who is believed to be from the Swansea area and was infected in northern Italy before returning to the UK.

Northern Ireland also confirmed its first case on Thursday. Authorities said they have contacted passengers who sat near the woman on a flight from northern Italy to Dublin.

 

  • Following the UK national’s death in Japan, a Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Japan and are in contact with local authorities.

“Our sympathies and thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises, which operates the Diamond Princess ship, also offered the company’s “sincere condolences”.

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Analysis

by BBC health and science correspondent, James Gallagher

The first death of a Brit from the coronavirus is, sadly, not a surprise.

This outbreak has killed around 2,800 people, most of them in China.

As the number of people infected with the virus increases, so too will the number of deaths.

That is why attention continues to be on China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan.

Each of those countries still has full-blown outbreaks of the coronavirus and their efforts to contain it will be crucial.

Other countries are already feeling the ripple effects of these outbreaks. The latest cases in the UK are connected to either Iran or Italy.

For now there is no coronavirus outbreak in the UK, but further imported cases are almost inevitable for as long as other countries have large numbers of infections.

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David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, were passengers on the ship and among the group of four Britons to be treated in Japanese hospitals after being diagnosed with the virus.

A family member confirmed the couple are “doing well and fighting fit”, adding: “They are getting stronger every day.”

A group of 30 British nationals and two Irish citizens were flown back to the UK from the cruise ship last Saturday.

They were taken on coaches to Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, where they are spending two weeks in isolation.

Image copyrightPA MEDIADavid Abel and his wife
Image captionSally and David Abel are being treated at a Japanese hospital after both testing positive for coronavirus

The cruise liner, which had 3,711 passengers on board, was put under quarantine in Yokohama in early February after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to have the virus.

At least 621 people on the ship later tested positive for coronavirus.

The World Health Organization warned that the outbreak had reached a “decisive point” and had “pandemic potential”.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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