Coronavirus couple: "We feared we weren't going to make it back to Northamptonshire together"

David and Sally Abel tell of their terror as luxury cruise turned into a nightmare

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 11:49 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 11:50 am

Northamptonshire couple David and Sally Abel revealed fears they might never make it home together after being struck down by the coronavirus during a dream cruise.

They finally returned to Woodford Halse, near Daventry, at the weekend two months after leaving for a two week trip on the Diamond Princess to celebrate their golden wedding.

And speaking from the Northamptonshire village today, Sally told Good Morning Britain of her terror that her husband was dying from the deadly bug that has now killed almost 8,000 people globally.

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She said: "I didn't think he was coming home, he was extremely bad.

"They diagnosed him with acute pneumonia as a side effect from the virus and he was basically giving up.

"I sat up most of the night just watching him breathing because I didn't think he was coming back."

The couple did their best to play down the severity of their illness during daily social media updates from the Japanese hospital where they spent 18 days being treated.

David and Sally Abel on Good Morning Britain this morning Picture: Good Morning Britain

Both tested positive on board the luxury liner just as they were nearing the end of a 14-day quarantine period.

Around 3,700 passengers and staff were confined to cabins while the liner was forced to stay in dock off the coast of Japan on February 3 after another passenger -- who had got off in Hong Kong a week earlier -- was diagnosed with the virus.

Sally was also diagnosed with milder form of pneumonia and recovered but stayed on in Japan until her husband was also cleared to fly home.

David added: “We had an amazing cruise until we realised the virus was creeping in.

The Abels dream cruise turned into a nightmare the coronavirus bug infected the ship

“The moment the ship went into quarantine everything changed. Neither of us knew we had contracted the virus so when we were tested it came as a mighty shock to find we were positive.

“It was another three days before they took us off the ship to hospital and I didn’t realise it at the time but my health did go down rapidly.”

David began his daily posts on Facebook and YouTube in a bid to raise awareness of the number of Brits trapped on board the liner in an effort to persuade the Government to fly them home. That was finally promised just as the couple were being taken into hospital.

But Mr Abel, who also posted a YouTube clip of the couple being reunited with their dogs Honey and Pudding, still had a good word for the authorities and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s measure to try and combat the virus in the UK.

David Abel gets treatment in a Japanese hospital

He said: “It’s a huge relief to be home. The Foreign Office in the UK have been amazingly good to our family and the British Embassy in Tokyo were absolutely fantastic, phoning us every day asking if there was anything we need or anything they can do.

“I really do believe in the measures the Government are finally taking and if people abide by them and we all take responsibility for our own health and our own hygiene then this will be over as quickly as it arrived.

"That might be naive of me to say that but as a country, it we pull together it really will disappear more quickly than we have ever imagined."

So far, 55 people have died in the UK after testing positive from the bug while 1,950 cases.

The youngest victim was last night named as Craig Ruston, a 45-year-old from Kettering who had motor neurone disease.

The spread of the virus has sparked panic buying across the UK with fears that severe social restrictions will last months.

Sally Abel enjoys a glass bubbly on the flight back to the UK