Wife of Brit infected with coronavirus on cruise begs to join him in hospital

The wife of a British lorry driver diagnosed with coronavirus on a honeymoon cruise has been left alone on the ship after begging to be taken to hospital with him.

Newlywed Alan Steele, from Wolverhampton, was one of 61 people to test positive for the SARS-like virus on the Diamond Princess, where 3,700 passengers and crew are trapped on board.

Mr Steele, 58, was taken to hospital for treatment and his wife Wendy Steele, 51, was forced to stay behind on the vessel while it is in a 14-day quarantine.

Mrs Steele, a mental health nurse, had earlier demanded that she be tested to find out if she is carrying the flu-like illness, declaring: "I will not be separated from Alan."

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But she was forced to stay behind while her husband was removed.

She wrote on Facebook: "My husband has now been taken off the ship.

"APOLOGIES if this sounds over emotional but to have your husband taken away from you.

"Not sure how long it will be until I see him again.

"In my working life… My colleagues would say 'balls of steel…' but not today. Counting down the days until I can laugh about stupid things with my husband again."

The only people being allowed off the ship, which is docked in Yokohama, Japan, are those who are carrying the virus and require hospital treatment.

The quarantine began on Monday and will not be lifted until February 19 at the earliest.

Mr Steele revealed on Friday that he is the the British holidaymaker who contracted the virus on the ship.

He said he wasn't showing any symptoms and he was being taken to hospital for treatment.

Mr Steele wrote to his family and friends on Facebook: "Just to let you all know I have been diagnosed as having the virus and am being shipped to hospital.

"Would also like to say that at the moment I am not showing any symptoms so just possible a carrier. Will let you know how I am going on when possible."

Mrs Steele was told she would have to remain on board alone while her husband is in hospital.

Earlier, she told the Washington Post in a Facebook Messenger chat: “I have demanded that they test me. I WILL NOT be separated from Alan.”

The couple got married on January 12 and were due to fly home so Mr Steele could start his new job as a driver on Monday.

Mrs Steele will celebrate her 52nd birthday on Tuesday next week while in quarantine.

Mr Steele wrote to a friend on Facebook that she would have to stay on board alone while he is in hospital, adding she was "not happy about it".

He told the Post: “I have been infected and am being transferred to hospital. Must say I am not showing any symptoms at the moment.

He said it appeared he had been tested in error because the doctor who swabbed his throat apologised and was uncertain why he had been chosen.

Mr Steele added: “I get the impression they are very confused."

The Steeles, who flew from Birmingham to Tokyo on January 18 just days after getting married, had been posting updates and photos while they were going "stir crazy" in their cabin and trying to keep themselves entertained.

On Wednesday, Mrs Steele wrote: "Had enough now of solidarity confinement."

She wrote on Thursday: "Atm both Alan and I are well. However, all passengers confined to cabins for next 14 days. Thanks to everyone for their concerns."

She wrote to a friend: "The very little food they are giving us is awful. One hot drink in over 24hrs so will lose all the holiday chub LOL. Last cigarette 48 hrs ago."

She told another friend: "We have to keep up the British stiff up a lip and use our sense of humour.

"On the plus side after this our marriage will survive anything LOL. Thanks for your concern."

Mr Steele wrote on Thursday: "Now 1900 hrs and still waiting for dinner. Wendy and I are having a night in just for once watching films we have already seen."

He wrote earlier in the day: "It is now 0920 and we have not received food or drink since yesterday evening.

"When I ask customer services they just say it's on its way???"

A post on Wednesday read: "Am sure everyone thinks 2 more weeks of cruising but the truth is we are now only fed sandwiches as and when they feel like feeding us and we are in solitary confinement.

"They will not inform us when we get to go out in the ship. on the good side they have given us 4 more tv channels to watch in Chinese horray."

It is understood there are 78 people with British passports – including crew – on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had earlier stops in Vietnam and Hong Kong.

Fellow Brit David Abel, 74, said in a video update on Facebook that he had been dining with his friend Mr Steele.

Mr Abel, who has been posting regular updates, said: "He will almost certainly be leaving the ship today – real, real shame.

"I have no idea how he must be feeling … they're on their honeymoon.

"He will be going off in to quarantine in a medical facility and she has to stay on board the ship because she's not displaying symptoms.

"That's going to be really, really tough for him so just bear a thought for these passengers who just don't know what is going to be lying ahead of them."

The other passengers who have tested positive for the virus are from countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Japan.

The outbreak was discovered after an 80-year-old Hong Kong man tested positive after disembarking the vessel last month.

The global death toll from coronavirus rose to 636 on Friday, with the number of confirmed cases rising to 31,161, mostly in China.

Some 320 cases have been recorded in 27 countries and regions outside China, where all but two of the deaths have occurred.

The other deaths were in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

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