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Coronavirus LIVE: Four Britons ABANDONED as they are refused seats on evacuation flight

Approximately 70 Britons will be boarding the flight after leaving the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was docked off the coast of Yokohama. But four British citizens are to be left behind as they have tested positive for the coronavirus. Rather than being transported back to the UK on a separate flight and able to receive treatment in Britain, they will be forced to stay in hospital abroad.

The measure has been put into place to stop the deadly disease being transported to the UK.

The plane is to land in the Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence base near Salisbury, Wiltshire. 

Passengers will then be bussed to Arrowe Park hospital on Wirral for a further quarantine period. 

The news comes amidst claims that infection control on the ship was so poor that it ended up helping the virus spread, rather than preventing it.

Alan Steele, a British honeymooner aboard the Diamond Princess, has branded the ship’s quarantine process “a joke”.

He said: “The quarantine process was a joke, an utter joke.

“I think there was a terrific rise in numbers because they had people just wandering all around the ship going from cabin to cabin to cabin.

“So if they caught it in one cabin, then they’re just spreading it to everyone else, aren’t they?”

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The coronavirus evacuation plane is set to take off from Japan to the UK this weekend (Image: ITV)

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Research into a vaccine for the coronavirus is being accelerated (Image: Getty)

Saturday February 22 

2.43am update: US Senator accuses China of coronavirus coverup 

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An influential US Senator has accused China of releasing “fake” coronavirus figures to downplay the scale of the problem. 

Senator Marco Rubio, who ran for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016, made the remarks on Twitter. 

He commented: “No reason to believe the coronavirus is “contained” in China. 

“The numbers they are releasing are fake. 

“Their primary goal isn’t addressing the virus, it’s their global image. 

“We have no idea what the true numbers are but they are without a doubt higher than what they admit to.”

1.40am update: South Korea announces 142 new coronavirus cases 

South Korea has announced 142 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 346. 

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The South Korean Government has already declared an “emergency” in response to the outbreak. 

0.35am update: Hong Kong police quarantined over coronavirus fears

Authorities in Hong Kong have put 59 police officers into quarantine after a 40-year-old officer tested positive for coronavirus. 

In a statement the Hong Kong police said: “Police are highly concerned about the case and would fully co-operate with the Department of Health (DH) in tracing the pathology, by proactively providing information such as the duty record of the officer over the past 14 days.” 

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There has been a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in Italy (Image: GETTY )

Friday February 21 

11.30pm: NHS to investigate possible London coronavirus in patients home 

The NHS has announced it will investigate possible cases of coronavirus in the patients home, in a bid to reduce the risk of wider infection. 

This could be extended to other parts of the country in the coming weeks. 

10.30pm: Schools and churches shut in ten Italian towns 

Schools and public places have been ordered to shut in ten northern Italian towns in a bid to stop the deadly coronavirus spreading further.

All public meetings, including church services, sports matches and carnivals, have been banned in the ten towns.

Authorities have also requested that 50,000 people remain at home.

Of the cases 14 are in Lombardy and two in Veneto.

James Bickerton takes over live reporting from Emily Ferguson.

8.05pm: Saudi Arabia imposes travel ban 

Saudi Arabia bans citizens from travelling to Iran due to coronavirus outbreak.

7.48pm update: 34 test postive in the US

34 people have so far tested positive for coronavirus in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

7.05pm update: Coronavirus prompts slump in car sales 

The panic over coronavirus has triggered a near-total collapse of car sales in China.

Sales of new cars fell 96 percent yea-on-year in the first week of February, with an average of just 811 vehicles sold each day in a country of 1.4billion people.

6pm update: Just three US states can test for coronavirus

California, Nebraska and Illinois are the only US states that can currently test for coronavirus, according to the Association of Public Health Laboratories. 

5.14pm update: 8 more cases confirmed in northern Italy

Northern Italy has confirmed eight more cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 14.

4.35pm update: 35 Britons from cruise ship expected to return home

Some 35 Britons are expected to fly home tomorrow, having faced strict quarantine measures on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship. 

Only those without symptoms will be able to board the plane.

The four Britons on board the Diamond Princess who have tested positive for coronavirus will not be on the flight.

4pm update: Fears of global spread as cases accelerate 

The World Health Organisation has said they are concerned that the number of cases of coronavirus without a clear link to China are growing worldwide.

But they maintain that containing the outbreak remains possible. 

3.15pm update: Britons have started to disembark Diamond Princess cruise ship

British passengers who had been quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship have started to disembark.

A repatriation flight for those quarantined on the ship will depart in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

It is understood that less than 50 British nationals may be on the plane when it departs for the UK.

The passengers are due to land at Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence base, near Salisbury in Wiltshire.

2.25pm update: Pangolins could be responsible for coronavirus

Animal activists have suggested pangolins traded for food and medicine could be responsible for the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy particularly in China and Vietnam and the body parts are also used in Chinese medicine.

Researchers discovered coronavirus samples taken from humans matched pangolins 99 percent.

It is believed pangolins would have been infected by ingesting at through saliva or faeces their favourite food: insects. 

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Fresh hope has come from the knowledge that new cases in China seem to be dwindling (Image: Getty)

2.10pm update: Ukraine blames disinformation for coronavirus panic

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk has blamed an “information war” for spreading panic over the coronavirus.

His comments come in the wake of Ukranians attacking a bus carrying evacuees from China to a sanatorium.

Whilst no-one on the bus had coronavirus, it was said fake emails from someone claiming to be the health ministry spread suggesting the evacuees were infected.

Authorities are now trying to find the source of the erroneous reports.

So far, there have been no cases of coronavirus reported in the country.

1.50pm update: Girl falls to her death in Hong Kong

A four-year-old girl has plummeted to her death in Hong Kong, after being left home alone over fears of coronavirus.

It is understood her father went downstairs to buy food, leaving his four year old and two year old daughters alone in the house.

The girl then fell from an unlocked window from the house.

The girl’s father has been arrested on suspicion of abuse/neglect. 

1.10pm update: Mass animal deaths in China

Hundreds of animals have been reported mysteriously dead in China.

Chinese authorities have admitted to mass animal deaths in the centre of the outbreak in the Hubei province.

State media has said at least 135 animals were found dead in one discovery near the city of Chongqing.

The Communist Party has blamed the deaths on huge disinfecting efforts carried out by the Chinese authorities. 

The animals will reportedly be buried, with sites where they were found to be disinfected. 

12.45pm update: Lebanon reports first case of coronavirus

The first case of the coronavirus has been reported in Lebanon, according to MTV Lebanon.

The patient is being transferred to the Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut.

12.30pm update: Moscow starts facial recognition programme for coronavirus quarantine

Moscow is enforcing a coronavirus quarantine by using facial recognition technology to ensure people stay at home or at their hotels, said the mayor of the Russian capital.

Sergei Sobyanin, Moscow’s mayor, said 2,500 people who had landed in the city from China had been ordered into quarantine to stop the deadly disease spreading.

To stop them from leaving apartments, homes and hotels, the city is using the technology to identify those breaking the rules. 

Mr Sobyanin wrote: Compliance with the regime is constantly monitored, including with the help of facial recognition systems and other technical measures.”

He described surveillance as “unpleasant but necessary”. 

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Symptoms of the coronavirus (Image: Express)

12.00pm update: “Turning point of coronavirus has not come” says Chinese President Xi Jinping

The turning point of coronavirus has not come yet, and the situation in the province where the virus began remains complex, state television reported President Xi Jinping as saying during a politburo meeting today.

President Xi said the impact from the virus on the Chinese economy is obvious but there is potential hope for the future.

In order to combat this, fiscal policy in China is set to be more proactive, effective and prudent. 

11.45am update: Coronavirus cases DOUBLE in South Korean city

Panic has ensued in one South Korean city as the number of coronavirus cases doubled overnight.

The number now stands at 204, with almost all of them traceable to two so-called “super-spreaders”.

Shopping centres and restaurants were reported to be eerily quiet, with authorities urging people to stay inside wherever possible.

Read more here.

11.20am update: 500 Chinese prisoners infected with coronavirus

500 Chinese prisoners have been infected with the coronavirus across a number of prisons.

230 inmates are believed to have tested positive for the deadly covid-19 in Wuhan Women’s Prison.

As a result, the director of the women’s prison has been sacked from her post, according to local media.

The Hubei Daily have also reported 41 prisoners in Shanyang Hanjin have been infected.

The Global Times have said 202 cases in a Shandong prison and 28 in Zejiang prison have also been confirmed. 

coronavirus-world

The coronavirus continues to grip many countries across the world (Image: Getty)

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The quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship is being slowly evacuated (Image: Getty)

11.00am update: More coronavirus cases and deaths in Iran

Iran has confirmed 13 more coronavirus cases and two deaths in a new outbreak of the deadly virus.

The Health Ministry spokesman, Kianush Jahanpur, confirmed the details on Twitter.

The total number of cases in Iran now stands at 18, with four of those people having lost their lives. 

10.40am update: Air travel demand to “fall for first time in 11 years”

Air travel is to fall for the first time in more than a decade, the international airline industry body has forecasted, due to the impact of the coronavirus.

The IATA warned that the outbreak of coronavirus could cost the airline industry over £23 billion in lost revenues this year.

The global demand for air travel is expecte to drop by 4.7 percent in 2020.

This is the first overall decline since the financial crisis in 2008-9. 

10.20am update: More Italian cases of coronavirus

Two more residents have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy.

The two Italian citizens have been confirmed to be victims of the deadly disease in the Lombardy region of the country.

The news comes as an Italian official also tested positive for the virus after meeting a friend who recently returned from China. 

10.00am update: British honeymooners from Diamond Princess joke about their circumstances

Two British honeymooners from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship have joked they are planning to go to “Butlins” on the Wirral as they prepare for another period of quarantine.

Alan Steele and his wife Wendy had boarded the ship as part of their romantic holiday following their wedding.

However, Mr Steele was later removed from the ship and taken ashore to a Japanese hospital two weeks ago, after testing positive for the virus.

He was forced to leave his wife, unaffected, onboard, but after both testing negative for the virus recently, the couple was reunited this week.

They will be spending the next two weeks at Arrowe Park hospital, with Mr Steele joking it would be like another holiday.

He wrote on Facebook: “Wendy’s test was negative so Butlins the Wirral here we come for 14 days.”

9.20am update: Hong Kong citizens set up face mask factory 

A group of citizens from Hong Kong have set up a face mask factory in response to panic buying in the midst of the coronavirus.

The leader of the group goes only by the name of Tang, out of fear he could be perceived as critical of the response of the Chinese government. 

He said: “I got angry looking for masks, they’re either all sold out, or the masks that are from overseas are sold at an inflated price.

“So I thought, making a mask isn’t that hard, just some fabric sewn together, how about I make my own factory?”

Tang, and those who have offered him financial support, imported in a machine from India – costing them $ 150,000 for the privilege.

The machine makes 100,000 masks a day and Tang hopes to have eight machines running by April. 

They are to be sold for HK$ 1 each, as opposed to some sellers who are charging HK$ 10, although some pharmacists are handing out masks for free. 

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