Dozens of people who spent two weeks isolated on a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan are finally on their way back to the UK.
A group of 32 people British and European nationals – took off from Haneda airport in Tokyo late on Friday and will land in Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence base, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, on Saturday morning.
The flight also has British government and medical staff on board, the Foreign Office said.
The Britons in the group will then be taken to Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral for two weeks of quarantine.
It is unclear where the small number of EU citizens will be taken after landing in the UK.
It comes after passengers aboard the Diamond Princess spent a fortnight in isolation on the ship as hundreds of cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on board.
A total of 634 passengers and crew caught the SARS-like illness, which makes up more than half the confirmed cases outside of China.
Only the people who were not exhibiting symptoms were allowed to board the repatriation flight on Friday.
One passenger, Alan Steele, who was separated from his new wife after being diagnosed with COVID-19, made a joke comparison between his awaited quarantine in the Wirral and Butlins.
Writing on Facebook, he said: “Wendy’s test was negative so Butlins the Wirral here we come for 14 days.”
Two Britons, David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, are being treated in a Japanese hospital after being diagnosed with the virus.
In a Facebook post, Mr Abel said the couple were “in the best place” and added: “See you all before we know it.”
He said they would both need to test negative three times in order to be discharged.
Two other British nationals who have been diagnosed with the virus are not present on the flight.
It is understood that several Britons who work on the ship have opted to remain, while other British nationals who live overseas have taken different routes home.
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Meanwhile, passengers aboard another cruise ship in Cambodia have been cleared for travel home.
Britons aboard the Westerdam, who all tested negative for the virus, are said to be receiving health advice and help with booking flights home.
There are now 75,467 suspected and confirmed cases of the virus, with a death toll of 2,236.
Fifteen people have died outside mainland China – four in Iran, two in Hong Kong, two in South Korea, two from the Diamond Princess cruise liner, and one each in Italy, France, the Philippines and Taiwan.