A plane carrying Britons who had been trapped on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship in Japan has taken off on its way to the UK, the Foreign Office has said.
Some 78 Britons were on the Diamond Princess cruise liner when it was quarantined in Yokohama 16 days ago.
The Foreign Office said 32 British and European passengers were onboard the evacuation flight, along with medical staff and British government officials.
The plane is due to land in the UK on Saturday, the Foreign Office added.
The flight had previously been delayed after the British embassy said it was “logistically complicated”.
The group is expected to land at Boscombe Down, a Ministry of Defence base in Wiltshire, before spending 14 days in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral – where two groups of people travelling from China have previously stayed.
The Britons on the evacuation flight will have passed screening tests for the virus.
Some have already been evacuated over the last week on flights to Hong Kong, organised by the authorities there, a government source has told the BBC.
Others are being treated for the virus in health facilities in Japan.
It is also understood that some British nationals are members of the ship’s crew who could be staying on board the ship.
More than 620 people on board the cruise ship tested positive for the virus – the largest cluster of cases outside China.
Two Japanese passengers – both in their 80s and with underlying health conditions – were confirmed to have died after contracting the virus on the Diamond Princess.
The cruise liner was carrying 3,700 people when it was quarantined in Yokohama on 5 February, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to have the virus.
China has reported 75,567 cases including 2,239 deaths from Covid-19, the illness brought on by coronavirus.
In the UK, a total of 5,885 people have been tested for the virus, as of 14:00 GMT on Friday. Nine people have tested positive.