Hopes stranded cruise couple could get home after Trump intervenes
- Credit: Samantha Haycox
A Norfolk couple, on board a cruise ship which has been stranded at sea, have been given hope they could be on their way home today - after an intervention by United States president Donald Trump.
Mr Trump has said arrangements had been made with the UK government to evacuate British passengers on two cruise ships set to dock in Florida after being hit by the coronavirus.
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, with both vessels having been denied entry to ports in several countries.
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They said on Thursday that the Foreign Office had said the plan was for them to fly back to the UK on Friday night.
The cruise liners are seeking to dock in Florida but have become embroiled in a dispute, with local authorities reluctant to take more patients into a state healthcare system already stretched by the coronavirus outbreak.
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However, Mr Trump said on Wednesday there was no choice but to allow the ships to dock and for those aboard to disembark.
The Associated Press reported Mr Trump had confirmed arrangements had been made with the UK to repatriate British passengers.
This was in keeping with comments this week from foreign secretary Dominic Raab 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”.
Zaandam was sailing a South America cruise that began in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 that was originally scheduled to end at San Antonio, Chile, on March 21.
But it was denied permission to come ashore and ended up having to get special permission to go through the Panama Canal to head to Florida.