Two friends from Ramsgate who travelled to the Philippines earlier this month are stranded with no flights out of the country and quarantine rules being imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mum-of-two Eva Perkins, 48, and best pal Stuart Atchison, 50, are confined to their hotel room in Luzon after being unsuccessful in rearranging a flight home.
The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, had already been forced to leave one hotel after that town went into lockdown and had to make a ten hour journey through roadblocks to reach the current venue near to airport Clark International.
The government had given foreign nationals hours to leave but the pandemonium that followed meant Eva and Stuart remained stranded. The next day the government rescinded the 72 hour rule and when the pair phoned their insurance company and airline Emirates they were told not to worry and to sit tight until their original flight this Friday, March 27.
Now the pair are desperate to return home and need prescription drugs.
Eva said: “We travelled to visit my extended family here on March 6 before the coronavirus really took hold and the Foreign Office said it was ok to travel.
“We’ve heard from many people stranded on outlying islands trying to get home as all internal transport, flights and ferries had been banned.
“Yesterday Emirates announced a flight suspension. So, our flight is now cancelled. The app says to call them to rebook but no one answers their Manila number. My mum called the UK number only to be told there are no flights to rebook so we are to apply for a flight voucher to be used at a later date.
“For now we are stuck here, the hotel has said we are welcome to extend our stay, obviously at a cost.
“We’re worried about being able to obtain our prescription medicines, I’m insulin dependent, taking thyroxine and blood pressure medication, Stuart is diabetic and on three types of medication for that and four blood pressure medications.
“My insurance company phone line said to email them as they are only dealing with acute medical emergencies by phone and they have told me to expect a reply in five days due to the current crisis.
“It’s very stressful. The Embassy here, whilst pleasant have been very little help.
“My husband is at home in Ramsgate looking after my 13 year old son and we’re talking via video chat every day.”
The total number of COVID-19 patients in the Philippines is 396 with 33 deaths. A ‘state of national emergency on account of lawless violence’ remains in place across the country.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: ” “We recognise that any British people currently overseas may be nervous about the impact of coronavirus on their travel and their health.
“We are in close contact with travel providers and our international partners to provide support to those British people affected by ongoing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
FCO teams around the world are working urgently to ensure that governments have sensible plans to enable the return of British and other travellers, and, crucially, to keep borders open for a sufficient period of time to enable returns to take place on commercial flights, wherever possible.
The Government is also working with airlines to ensure as many people as possible can get commercial flights home.
All British tourists and short-stay travellers currently abroad should return to the UK where and while commercial flight options are still available, the Foreign Secretary announced today.
MP Craig Mackinlay’s office is in touch with the pair. Mr Mackinlay has been asked for comment.
As of 9am on 23 March 2020, a total of 83,945 people have been tested, of which 77,295 were confirmed negative and 6,650 were confirmed positive.
As of 1pm on 23 March 2020, 335 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died.