British passengers who were stuck on Grand Princess after 21 people were tested positive for coronavirus are expected back in the UK today on a government repatriation flight.

Efforts to repatriate people from the Princess Cruises’ ship kicked in after US authorities allowed the vessel to dock in Oakland.

The vessel had been held off the California coast for almost a week after 19 crew members and two passengers caught the virus.

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The Foreign Office said it was working on plans to repatriate British nationals from Grand Princess last night to return to the UK on Wednesday afternoon. There were 142 Britons among the 3,500 passengers and crew on board.

Princess Cruises confirmed today that a total of 1,406 people have disembarked Grand Princess.

“Disembarkation is in order of priority, as defined, directed and managed by both state and local authorities. It will be a multiple day process,” a spokesperson for the line said.

“As part of the disembarkation process, California Health & Human Services teams are on board the Grand Princess to assist with medical screening and interviews, and have prioritised those who require the most medical attention and care.

“To avoid delays in the disembarkation process, Covid-19 testing will be conducted when guests arrive at their onward destinations.

“Additional information on the destinations for international guests will be provided once confirmed by international government agencies.

“As of last night, 407 people had disembarked, including two guests who tested positive for Covid-19 on March 6. They have been transferred to local hospitals.

“Nineteen crew members who tested positive for Covid-19 have been deemed asymptomatic and were not disembarked from the ship. These crew members are currently in isolation in their individual cabins.”

Remaining crew members will remain on board once all passengers have left and Grand Princess will depart from San Francisco Bay.

“Plans for a crew quarantine are still being determined,” the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, the company confirmed that two crew members tested for coronavirus on board Caribbean Princess were found to be negative. The ship is due into Port Everglades in Florida today.