Britons stranded on the Japanese cruise ship blighted by coronavirus has told of how couples are being split up as a result of the deadly disease.
David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, are among 2,500 passengers who have been stuck on the Diamond Princess off the Japanese coast since February 3.
They have a private balcony but are mostly confined to their cabin and have to wear masks and stay away from other passengers when they are let out for brief periods.
The pair told Good Morning Britain couples are being split up if one of them tests positive for the virus, which has had 219 cases on board so far.
Mr Abel told the programme this morning: ‘It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been married, couples have been separated.
‘Elderly couples, one I understand in their eighties, have been split up. It’s very very worrying for those on board.’
His wife Sally added: ‘We’ve been together 50 years and the thought of one of us being positive and one not and being split is very scary.’
David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, are among 2,500 passengers who have been stuck on the Diamond Princess off the Japanese coast since February 3
Passengers who test positive are being off the ship and quarantined in Japanese medical facilities.
Authorities in Japan have today said 44 more people have been diagnosed on board the ship, which is docked off Yokohama.
The country’s health ministry said 219 people of the 713 tested on board the Diamond Princess have been infected by the virus.
Asked how they are feeling, Mrs Abel replied: ‘Wishing it was over. It’s getting harder.
‘It’s a nightmare you just want to wake up from.’
But she said she and her husband are getting along okay, adding: ‘I must admit, we have got on pretty well. No arguments.’
The Diamond Princess is anchored off the port of Yokohama on February 9
A picture taken by David Abel shows the inside of the Diamond Princess
Another picture shows the almost deserted inside of the Diamond Princess where passengers are confined to their cabins
They explained that the Japanese health authorities have to approve any information before it is given to the captain, so passengers are generally reading updates online two or three hours ahead of official announcements.
They say they are allowed to order packages to the ship, but one Australian couple who claimed they had wine delivered by drone were only joking.
Mr Abel said of the couple: ‘They have a brilliant sense of humour, they admitted after a day or two it was joke.’
Holidaymakers are likely to face further tests and health authorities are scrambling to deliver medicine requested by passengers, with the ship expected to remain in quarantine in Yokohama until February 19.
The liner was quarantined on arrival in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on February 3 after a man who disembarked from the liner in Hong Kong before it travelled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus.
About 80 per cent of the ship passengers were aged 60 or over, with 215 in their 80s and 11 in their 90s, according to Japanese media. The ship typically has a crew of 1,100 and a passenger capacity of 2,670.
‘We will make every effort to ensure the safety and peace of mind of the people,’ Kato told a televised news conference, without confirming the number of passengers who may leave ahead of schedule.
The minister said those who fit the criteria and wished to disembark would be housed in unspecified facilities provided by the Japanese government.
Those who had been in close contact with persons who tested positive would not be allowed to leave the ship, he said.
The British-flagged Diamond Princess is managed by Princess Cruise Lines, one of the world’s largest cruise lines and a unit of Carnival Corp.
Japanese military personnel set up a covered walkway next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship yesterday where thousands of people are in quarantine