Quarantined cruise ship passengers beg Richard Branson for help
A British couple stuck onboard a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan have appealed to billionaire Richard Branson for help.
David Abel made the appeal during a Facebook live video in which he asked the Virgin boss to charter a special plane to fly all the British passengers home to carry out their quarantine.
The Diamond Princess is moored at Yokohama Port and has 218 people infected with the recently named Covid-19, three of them British, out of 713 tested.
Wendy Marshall Steele is among those confined on board after her new husband Alan, from Market Drayton, was taken to hospital following a positive test for coronavirus during their honeymoon cruise.
Mr Abel said that despite being a “staunch Tory” he had “no confidence” in Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Mr Abel said: “When he (Johnson) just says ‘keep calm, don’t panic’ – I’d like to see you in this situation, mate. I really would.”
He has become an unlikely celebrity due to his videos and now he and his wife Sally have featured in news outlets across the world.
In the wake of his viral fame he said was now “appealing to one man”.
“So, Richard Branson, I want to ask you a question, pal,” he said in a video posted on Valentine’s Day.
“If you and your family were in this situation, what would you do? And please don’t say ‘chill out, stay calm’, that’s not what we want to hear.
“I’m asking, what would it cost to hire one of your smaller planes, put all the Brits onboard, 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.”
Unusual Valentine's Day
Meanwhile those on the Diamond Princess were treated to special Valentine’s Day meals, gifts and entertainment.
Strict hygiene regulations mean passengers are only allowed on deck for hour-long periods while wearing face masks, so staff have adapted the onboard entertainment and organised special gift packages for their guests.
In lieu of live performances or trivia games, the crew pre-recorded and uploaded Valentine’s-themed videos for the passengers’ cabin televisions.
Adult guests received presents including complimentary heart-shaped chocolates, roses, a collagen eye mask and hand cream, while children were given sweets and games.
Chocolates and earbuds for music were also gifted to crew members.
A special menu including dinner options such as “Cupid’s Avocado and Shrimp Salad” and a “Valentine’s Day Surprise Dessert of the Day” was also issued.
Mrs Steele posted to Facebook today: “Happy Valentine’s Day to my gorgeous husband.
“Counting down the days until we see each other.”
Mr Steele said he tested negative for the disease this week and will be released from his Tokyo hospital if he passes another test.
Of more than 3,500 people on board, 44 more tested positive on Thursday.
In China, the number of deaths from coronavirus has reached 1,380, with more than 63,000 recorded infections, in figures announced early on Friday morning.
The Department of Health said on Thursday that 2,521 people in the UK have been tested, of whom 2,512 were confirmed negative and nine positive.