LONDON                 -             A British man who was quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan has died from coronavirus.

The Japanese ministry of health said the man was the sixth passenger from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to have died. The ship had been quarantined off the coast of Japan.

He is the first Briton to have died from coronavirus, also known as Covid-19. In the UK, 19 people have been diagnosed with the illness. The ministry did not provide his name or age.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Japan and are in contact with local authorities. Our sympathies and thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises, which operates the ship, said: “All of us at Princess Cruises, including the crew of Diamond Princess, offer our sincere condolences to family members and friends for their loss.”

Earlier, the health ministerJo Churchill said she was aware a British man who had been onboard the ship was “very poorly”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “The Foreign Office are supporting the family of a British man who has been very poorly and was a passenger onboard the Diamond Princess.

“I haven’t had confirmation, but I was aware there was a gentleman who was very, very poorly.”

She added: “It is my understanding that this British national doesn’t in fact reside in the UK, but lives elsewhere in the world. Our sympathies and thoughts are with [his family] at this difficult time.”

Four Britons remained in Japan after testing positive for the Covid-19 virus. They included David and Sally Abel, from Northamptonshire, who are recovering in a Japanese hospital. Dozens of others were flown back to the UK last week after testing negative.

The Abels recorded a video on Thursday after Sally was cleared of the virus. In the video, David said: “Everything here is looking OK. Even if I’m still positive it’s not the end of the world.”

More than 700 passengers and crew onboard the Diamond Princess were confirmed as having Covid-19, including the six people who have since died.