A repatriation flight expected to contain 35 passengers who spent more than two weeks trapped on a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan is set to depart for the UK within hours.

Britons who have spent more than two weeks quarantined on the Diamond Princess are gearing up for their evacuation home this weekend.

A repatriation flight, initially due to leave on Friday, will now depart in the early hours of Saturday, local time.

Some 35 passengers are confirmed to board the repatriation flight, mainly British nationals with a small number of EU citizens, the PA news agency understands.

The plane that will take them home has landed at Haneda airport in Tokyo, and will take off slightly later than planned due to its late arrival.

In addition, UK Government medics will  be on board.

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

Only those without symptoms will be able to board the plane, and all the passengers will be taken to Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral for 14 days of quarantine.

It is unclear where the small number of EU citizens will be taken once the plane lands in the UK.

One passenger, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 and has since been given the all-clear, joked that the experience will be like visiting a holiday camp.

Japan Outbreak Ship
Staff in protective suits escort foreign passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship to buses (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Honeymooner Alan Steele was taken to a Japanese hospital and has since tested negative for the virus and been reunited with his wife, Wendy.

“Wendy’s test was negative so Butlins the Wirral here we come for 14 days,” Mr Steele posted on Facebook.

Elaine Spencer is one of those who has been trapped on the ship.

Ms Spencer, from Sittingbourne in Kent, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she was “relieved” to be coming home.

Asked how the Foreign Office had handled their repatriation, she said “slowly”.

David Abel receives treatment for the coronavirus in a hospital in Japan (David Abel/PA)

Since being kept on board the cruise liner in the port of Yokohama, a total of 634 passengers and crew have been infected, accounting for more than half of all the confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China.

It is understood that some British nationals who are part of the Diamond Princess crew have opted to remain.

Some British nationals who were passengers have not registered for the flight, some have returned to their homes overseas, while a number boarded an evacuation flight to Hong Kong, where they live, it is understood.

The four Britons on board the Diamond Princess who have tested positive for coronavirus will not be on the flight.

David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, are now being treated in a Japanese hospital after spending days shut in their cabin following their diagnosis with the virus.

In a Facebook post, Mr Abel said he and his wife were “in the best place” and said the couple will need to test negative for Covid-19 three times after treatment.

“See you all before you know it,” he added.

Coronavirus cases graphic
(PA Graphics)

Meanwhile, Britons in Cambodia who left another cruise ship, the Westerdam, and who have been cleared for travel are being assisted by the Foreign Office to make their way home.

The group are receiving health advice and being helped with commercial flight bookings. All have tested negative after one case was diagnosed on board.

It is unclear how many Britons are returning and whether some British passengers had already returned.

Public Health England (PHE) said airport health teams would meet the flights and speak to Westerdam passengers about any symptoms.

If they do not have symptoms, passengers will be given health advice and told to self-isolate at home for 14 days but, if they have symptoms, they will be taken to hospital for testing.

Cambodia Outbreak Cruise Ship
Passengers disembark from the MS Westerdam in Cambodia (Heng Sinith/AP)

As of 2pm on Friday, a total of 5,885 people in the UK have been tested for coronavirus, of whom nine have tested positive.

There have been more than 75,000 confirmed infections recorded in mainland China and more than 1,000 cases across 26 other countries – including those on board the Diamond Princess.

Authorities in China recorded 118 deaths on Thursday, taking the total to 2,236 inside the country.

In the World Health Organisation (WHO) briefing on Thursday, director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said data continues to show a decline in new cases “but this is no time for complacency”.