Coronavirus: Dozens held in Merseyside coronavirus quarantine go home

Emily Mee, news reporter

The Britons quarantined for two weeks over coronavirus fears have told of their jubilation at being able to go home.

Dozens of Britons were rescued from the Chinese city of Wuhan and placed in quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus.

Some 83 people are now being allowed to return home after being held at Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside.

All of the group have tested negative for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Teacher Kharn Lambert, who had been held in quarantine along with his grandmother, told Kay Burley@Breakfast the pair were excited to be packing for home.

"Everybody gets excited by packing to go on holiday but this was extra excitement. I can't even describe it. It was jubilation, it was just fanatical," he said.

The teacher said his grandmother is "doing absolutely fantastic" and is "looking forward to getting a haircut".

Mr Lambert had missed his sister's 21st birthday and his other grandmother's 80th birthday while in quarantine - but said he would be celebrating over the weekend instead.

He continued: "I wasn't supposed to be home at this time of year so I'm just looking forward to seeing family and friends.

"I can't wait to see the back of the door but I've made a lot of friends here. I've known a lot of people that were already here but I've made a lot of good friends and I'm going to keep in contact with them."

As for returning to Wuhan, Mr Lambert says he does not expect to be able to go back for another four to six months.

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Matt Raw, 38, shouted "We're free... and the sun's shining" as he left isolation with the 82 others.

"I would say that 99.9% of us, if not 100% of us, are really happy to have been here. We're very grateful to have been here," he said.

"The last thing that any one of us would have wanted is to have passed that virus on, if we were infected, to pass it on to somebody else.

"You have to live with that. If somebody does get sick from it and dies we'd have to live with that knowledge for the rest of our lives and of course that's not who we are."

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Mr Raw, from Knutsford, Cheshire, added: "Personally, I've cheated death quite a few times on my travels over the years and I guess this is just another one to tick off the list."

The 38-year-old had been in isolation with his mother, Hazel, who has dementia.

"She's not really totally aware of where she is and what's happening but she's certainly enjoying all of the attention to a degree," he said.

Dr William Welfare, interim deputy director for health protection at Public Health England North West, said he was "delighted" the group would now be "able to continue with their normal lives".

"All the test results from flight one have come back negative so we can be very clear that all of those leaving today do not pose risk to the wider public," he said.

NHS chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said: "As our first group of guests leaves Arrowe Park Hospital, we want to thank them for the highly responsible, pragmatic and stoical way they have played their part in keeping both themselves and others safe.

"They have set an important example, recognising that over the coming weeks many more of us may need to self-isolate at home for a period to reduce this virus's spread."

Sir Simon also thanked NHS staff for managing to organise the group's care within 72 hours.