Coronavirus: Repatriation plans for stranded Manx residents revealed

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image captionThe Isle of Man's border was closed to all new arrivals on 27 March

Plans to repatriate about 200 Manx residents stranded by the coronavirus pandemic have been revealed by the health minister.

Limited numbers of people will be able to travel on "designated" ferry sailings from the UK starting on 15 April, David Ashford said.

Up to 190 residents were off island when the Isle of Man closed its borders to all new arrivals on 27 March.

Only those showing no symptoms of the virus will be permitted to return.

Everyone arriving back on the island will be quarantined in secure accommodation for 14 days before being allowed home, said Mr Ashford.

The process of repatriating all those affected would take "five to eight weeks", he added.

Last week, the Manx parliament heard that residents who were abroad when the island shut its borders felt "frightened and abandoned".

People currently overseas have been told to make their own way back to the UK on commercial flights or those organised for British citizens by the Foreign Office.

"We have been working since the border closure with our clinicians to develop a process where we can manage the return of our residents to our island clinically safely.

"This approach is tough but it protects our community and will preserve life, while doing the right thing by those that may, through no fault of their own, have been caught abroad."

The process would be "under continuous review" and would stop if there was "any indication that this is impacting our ability to manage the virus on the Isle of Man", he added.

A total of 139 people have tested positive for the virus, with six patients receiving treatment at Noble's Hospital.

Fifty-five are now classed as "presumed recovered" leaving 85 active current cases.

One person on the island has died as a result of the coronavirus.

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