A BRITISH man on the Diamond Princess cruise ship has died from coronavirus.
The Japanese Ministry of Health said the tourist was the sixth fatality from the ship, which has been quarantined off the country’s coast during the outbreak.
He is the first Briton to die from coronavirus, also known as Covid-19.
In the UK, 19 people have now been diagnosed with the illness, after Wales reported its first patient and two more sufferers were identified in England.
Health authorities ordered a 14-day quarantine for all on board the Diamond Princess, which had an original population of 3,711 passengers, on February 5.
Passengers who had tested negative were allowed to disembark at the end of the two weeks.
Health minister Jo Churchill has said she was aware a British man who had been on board the ship was ‘very poorly’.
She told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: ‘The Foreign Office are supporting the family of a British man who has been very poorly and was a passenger on board the Diamond Princess.
‘I haven’t had confirmation because obviously I’m on the telephone to you, but I was aware there was a gentleman who was very, very poorly, and I’m sure like me your thoughts and sympathies go out to his family at this time.’
Later the Foreign Office in London said the Japanese authorities had confirmed the death of a British man who had been on board the Diamond Princess.
A spokesman said: ‘We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Japan and are in contact with local authorities.
‘Our sympathies and thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.’
A family member of David and Sally Abel, who had been on the ship and were both diagnosed with coronavirus, confirmed the couple were ‘doing well and fighting fit’, adding: ‘They are getting stronger every day.’
Princess Cruises, which operates the Diamond Princess ship, has offered its condolences to the British man’s friends and family.
Elsewhere today, Wales’ chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton said the first diagnosed patient in Wales had recently travelled back from Italy, the worst-affected country in Europe.
He added that the man had returned from a holiday there last week, and was now being treated at one of the specialist centres in an English hospital.
Those identified in England had recently travelled back from Iran, the Department of Health said. The virus has spread rapidly across Iran — with 22 dead among the 141 cases confirmed.
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said the patients had been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
So far, China has reported nearly 80,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths, while the virus has reached nearly 60 countries with more than 80 deaths.
Meanwhile, Labour has criticised Boris Johnson for waiting until Monday to hold a meeting of the government’s Cobra contingencies committee on the outbreak.
It comes after Northern Ireland reported its first case yesterday, as someone who recently returned from northern Italy was diagnosed with the virus.
Irish health authorities said today that people who sat within two rows of the person on the flight from northern Italy to Dublin had been contacted.
Irish health chief Dr John Cuddihy said: ‘Each of the stages of this person’s journey have been identified and all relevant contacts in all of those stages of transport have been contacted [and] traced.’
Italy has become the worst-affected country in Europe, with at least 650 cases and 15 deaths.
EasyJet today said it would cancel flights as a result of the continued spread of coronavirus, in a move which would particularly affect ‘those into and out of Italy’.
It was confirmed yesterday that a parent at a primary school in Derbyshire had contracted the virus in Tenerife, where 168 Britons are being kept in a hotel in the south-west of the island.
Hundreds of guests have been confined to the H10 Costa Adeje Palace after at least four, including an Italian doctor, were diagnosed with coronavirus.
Overall, 130 guests from 11 countries have been told by Spanish authorities that they can leave, because they arrived at the hotel on Monday — after those who tested positive had been taken to hospital.
Some holidaymakers were seen leaving the hotel wearing face masks today, although it is unknown if any Britons were among those permitted to leave.