UK: Passengers from coronavirus-hit ship taken into quarantine

The groups has, so far, tested negative for the virus

WIRRAL, MERSEYSIDE - FEBRUARY 22: An ambulance and police are seen as coaches containing British Diamond Princess evacuees arrive at Arrowe Park Hospital on February 22, 2020 in Wirral, United Kingdom. UK nationals who have spent 16 days in quarantine on the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise liner have been repatriated after testing negative for the virus. After landing in the UK, the group will spend 14 days quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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British and Irish nationals brought home from a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship have been taken into quarantine in northern England.

Thirty Britons and two Irish citizens were brought to Arrowe Park hospital in the north of England after they left Japan late on Friday evening.

The groups has, so far, tested negative for the virus.

They arrived at the quarantine hospital, where they will stay for the next two weeks, on Saturday evening, the BBC reported.

The UK nationals were on the cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, when it was taken into quarantine 16 days ago.

In excess of 620 people on board the vessel tested positive for the virus. The cruise ship carried the largest cluster of cases outside China.

Some of the passengers had already been evacuated over the past seven days, taking flights to Hong Kong organised by Chinese authorities.

“We have brought 32 British and European citizens safely home from Japan,” the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in statement.

“Our number one priority has consistently been the health and safety of UK nationals,” the statement added.

Britain’s NHS is reportedly developing plans to test individuals for the coronavirus at home at.

If the virus begins to spread in the UK as it has elsewhere, it is hoped that by testing individuals at homes hospitals and doctors’ offices will not become hotspots for disease transmission.

A version of the initiative is being piloted in London, where tests are being carried out by nurses and paramedics. The NHS is planning to expand the scheme outside of London in the coming weeks.

Since the coronavirus emerged in December, the new coronavirus has killed 2,345 people in China, the epicentre of the epidemic, and at least 17 elsewhere in the world.

World Health Organisation officials have said that China's crackdown on parts of the country bought time for the rest of the world to prepare for the new virus. But as hot spots emerge around the globe, including in South Korea and Iran, there has been trouble finding the first patient who sparked each new cluster.

Elsewhere in Europe, Italy has said a second person has died from the virus. The woman living in the northern region of Lombardy lost her life one day after a 78-year-old man died.

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown Saturday after the deaths.

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses. The mayor of Milan, Italy's business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

Hundreds of residents and workers who came into contact with 54 people who tested positive for the virus in Italy were put into isolation pending results of their tests. Civil protection crews set up a tent camp outside a closed hospital in Veneto to screen medical staff for the virus.

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown Saturday after the deaths.