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Stranded couple one step closer to coming home after cruise ship docks

PUBLISHED: 10:58 03 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:58 03 April 2020

Norfolk couple Heather and David Haycox. Pic: Courtesy Samantha Haycox.

Norfolk couple Heather and David Haycox. Pic: Courtesy Samantha Haycox.

Samantha Haycox

A Norfolk couple stuck aboard a stranded cruise ship are now just hours away from flying home, after the liner was allowed to dock in Florida having previously being denied entry.

Four people have died aboard the cruise ship Zaandam, including 75-year-old British man John Carter, whose widow has been isolated on board since his death.

Brooke couple David and Heather Haycox, both 62, were among 200 Britons on the ship, which has recorded nine confirmed cases of Covid-19 and has some 200 people on board who have reported flu-like symptoms.

Mr and Mrs Haycox were among healthy passengers on the Zaandam who were moved on to its sister ship, the Rotterdam, earlier this week and which has now also been allowed to dock in Florida.

Operating company Holland America said that following arrival in Port Everglades, all guests would be health screened and also cleared for entry by US Customs and Border Protection.

It added that disembarkation was expected to be completed by Friday evening, with priority given to those who need immediate care.

Samantha Haycox, 25, Mr and Mrs Haycox’s daughter, said the couple were expected to fly home to the UK on Friday evening. She said: “They’ve had a medical and been given the all clear.

“It feels great [to know they’re coming home] we’re all really happy.”

The cruise liners attempted to dock in Florida earlier this week but became embroiled in a dispute, with local authorities reluctant to take more patients into a state healthcare system already stretched by the coronavirus outbreak.

However, on Wednesday, United States president Donald Trump there was no choice but to allow the ships to dock and for those aboard to disembark.

Speaking at the daily White House coronavirus briefing, Mr Trump said that the US had a duty to accept the passengers “from a humane standpoint”.

“We don’t have a choice. I don’t want to do that but we have to. People are dying,” he said.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said that the government was “determined to help Britons stranded abroad” and that it would “work with British Airways to keeps flights running, so travelling Brits can get back to the UK”.

The latest development regarding the two cruise ships come as authorities in Mexico allowed 46 British citizens to disembark from another cruise ship off its Caribbean coast and fly home on Wednesday.

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