British passengers that are stuck on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama have turned their hopes to billionaire Richard Branson to get them evacuated after a serious coronavirus (or COVID-19 virus, as it’s now called) outbreak onboard.
A total of 74 British passengers, including 22 crew members, are still stuck on the COVID-19 virus-stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess that’s held in quarantine in Yokohama, Japan, since February 3.
The Brits have become increasingly desperate as they feel their government is doing little or nothing to help them repatriate. One passenger, 73-year-old David Abel, made an emotional plea to Virgin Atlantic owner and billionaire Richard Branson on Friday to get all the British passengers off their floating prison.
Abel said during a live video on Youtube that he has no confidence in Boris Johnson’s swift handlings.
He said: ‘When he [Mr. Johnson] just says, “keep calm, don’t panic”—I’d like to see you in this situation, mate. I really would” the Daily Mail reported.
“I’m asking, what would it cost to hire one of your smaller planes, put all the Brits on board—no flight attendants, packaged food?
“Take us to Brize Norton, take us straight into the medical facility, and let us do our quarantine there by people who can speak our language.
“I’m serious, Richard Branson, absolutely serious. I think he is the man. He’s not afraid to speak his mind. He’s the guy who could resolve this for the Brits.”
He added: “Whatever the cost, we will somehow find a way of paying for that plane. Don’t know how but we wouldn’t want you to be out of pocket on that.”
Branson replied on his Twitter page: “Virgin Atlantic does not fly to Japan, but we are in discussions with the UK government and seeing if there is anything we can do to help.”
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) February 16, 2020
Of the total of 519 cases of coronavirus diagnosed in Japan, 454 were aboard the Diamond Princess.
Earlier on, UK authorities said they are considering evacuating 74 UK nationals on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, said a spokesperson for the Foreign Office, but nothing has happened so far.
“We sympathize with all those caught up in this extremely difficult situation. We are urgently considering all options to guarantee the health and safety of the British people on board the Diamond Princess, in line with the latest advice from the Chief Medical Officer and the World Health Organisation, and are working closely with the Japanese authorities and our international partners,” a Foreign Office spokesperson told CNN.
“Our staff in Tokyo, including the Ambassador, have been in regular contact with the British passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess, and we have also been speaking to families in the UK,” the spokesperson added.
About 300 Americans have already been evacuated and were transported to military bases in the United States for further quarantine measures.
Australia, Hong Kong, and Canada have said they are planning to evacuate citizens from the cruise ship, located off the coast of Yokohama, Japan.