BRITISH nationals onboard a cruise ship in Japan following the coronavirus outbreak in China are due to be quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital when they return to the UK this weekend.

The news was confirmed by Janelle Holmes, chief executive of Wirral University Teaching Hospital Trust (WUTHT), in an email to staff.

The hospital is still waiting for final confirmation of the numbers staying.

More than 70 British nationals who have been quarantined on board the Diamond Princess were due to fly home today, but they will now leave the cruise ship tonight, departing in the early hours of Saturday, local time.

They are due to land at Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence base, near Salisbury in Wiltshire.

In her letter to staff, Arrowe Park boss Janelle Holmes said the road at the back of the hospital will be closed but will be open between 4pm and 5.30pm Monday to Thursday and 3.30pm to 5pm on Fridays to prevent congestion once the evacuees have arrived.

Mrs Holmes letter read: "As you may have seen in the press, 78 British nationals are currently quarantined on board a cruise ship in Japan and the UK Foreign Office has been working to organise a flight back to the UK to repatriate them.

"Following the successful management of two previous groups of repatriated British citizens, from Wuhan in China, Arrowe Park has been asked to host the Britons from Japan and look after them throughout their quarantine period.

"Everyone being repatriated will be assessed before boarding the plane in Japan, monitored during the flight and will continue to be monitored after landing in the UK. No one showing symptoms of COVID-19 will board the plane in Japan.

"If anyone develops symptoms during the flight, they will be assessed and transferred to a suitable NHS hospital on landing in the UK.

"I am aware we had only recently told you we were in the process of supporting the staff displaced from the accommodation block to move back in, and I want to apologise to you for this change of plan so soon after that communication.

"As before, we will be working with staff from NHS England and NHS Improvement, Public Health England, local partners Wirral CCG, Wirral Council, Wirral Community Health and Care NHS FT, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS FT, Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, The Red Cross, and other voluntary groups, to support these guests from their arrival, and throughout their stay with us.

"We are still ironing out some of the arrangements and looking at ways that we can ensure the minimal possible disruption to the day-to-day work of the trust, and other local organisations, and we will keep you updated on a regular basis."

NHS Chief executive Simon Stevens said "As people from the Diamond Princess arrive from Japan they will be offered expert support and supervision back here from the NHS.

"These are demanding and unusual circumstances, so we're all very grateful to the exceptional NHS teams working at Arrowe Park and their wider partners, who are once again stepping-up to look after this new group of quarantined guests."