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Canada Stranded in South America as COVID-19 spreads, Canadian travellers anxiously await rescue

20:15  24 march  2020
20:15  24 march  2020 Source:   globalnews.ca

Former minister Eggleton among 146 Canadians 'stranded at sea' as ports refuse to let luxury cruise ship dock

  Former minister Eggleton among 146 Canadians 'stranded at sea' as ports refuse to let luxury cruise ship dock A cruise ship with 146 Canadians among its 1,000 passengers is stranded in the Pacific Ocean as ports in South America refuse to let it dock because of COVID-19 fears. Among the passengers is Art Eggleton, Canada’s former minister of defence and minister for international trade who sent a personal alert to senior officials in Ottawa seeking assistance for the Canadians.  Among the passengers is Art Eggleton, Canada’s former minister of defence and minister for international trade who sent a personal alert to senior officials in Ottawa seeking assistance for the Canadians. Eggleton was a federal cabinet minister under Prime Minister Jean Chretien and also mayor of Toronto for 11 years.

a person standing in front of a mountain: Chelsea Widdicombe and friend, Clifford Robinson, in Cusco, Peru before the country closed its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. © Submitted Chelsea Widdicombe and friend, Clifford Robinson, in Cusco, Peru before the country closed its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite government efforts to bring them home, some Canadian travellers stranded by the COVID-19 pandemic say they are not optimistic about returning home soon.

On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne tweeted that the Canadian government had "secured authorizations for @AirCanada to operate 3 flights this week" from Peru.

READ MORE: Canada to send flights to Peru, Spain to help citizens stranded by COVID-19 — Trudeau

The South American country has closed its borders, forcing residents into quarantine to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Montrealers stuck abroad amid COVID-19 pandemic desperate to come home

  Montrealers stuck abroad amid COVID-19 pandemic desperate to come home During a press briefing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, suggested help may be on the way.Some, like Marc Aoun's in-laws, have been trying all week to find a flight.

But Chelsea Widdicombe, who has been stranded with a friend in Cusco, Peru for two weeks, expressed doubts that the upcoming flights could accommodate the thousands of Canadians in that country trying to get home.

"I can definitely say I am losing hope on this issue," Widdicombe said.

"I truly feel that if we do not get a flight this week, we are here for the long haul."

READ MORE: Canada working with commercial airlines to repatriate stranded citizens

Coronavirus: Winnipeg couple stranded in Ecuador amid COVID-19 pandemic plea for federal help

  Coronavirus: Winnipeg couple stranded in Ecuador amid COVID-19 pandemic plea for federal help A Winnipeg couple stranded in an airport hotel in Ecuador is desperately awaiting help from the federal government to get home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.Ecuador imposed sweeping measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, barring international flights March 14, then declaring a state of emergency March 18.

Widdicombe says she and her friend, Clifford Scott Robinson — both Ontario residents — have been spending their time watching movies, reading and knitting.

"But most of all, we are on our phones, constantly trying to watch for any update from the government," Widdicombe said.

In another Peruvian city, Arequipa, Nova Scotian Ian Melanson and two fellow backpackers are also seeking details of repatriation flights.

"We have heard of people in Arequipa that have gotten phone calls about buses to transport to Lima, but none of us have gotten any word at all," Melanson said, adding that the three men were pursuing more information from Global Affairs "to sort things out."

From Nova Scotia, Melanson's mother, Anne, said the announcement of three flights from Peru "is absolutely what we hoped for," noting there is still stress about logistics and whether every Canadian who wants and needs to leave Peru will get to do so.

Sportak: Anxious wait for our flight home from paradise

  Sportak: Anxious wait for our flight home from paradise The worst part is the uncertainty. Uncertainty made the decision to return to Canada a finality. It’s also making the wait for Thursday’s journey to Calgary through Tokyo and Vancouver all the more anxious. Uncertainty has become front and centre while on the other side of the world amidst the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. In early February, my wife, Michelle, and I began a dream getaway. The plan was four months flashpacking throughout Southeast Asia, visiting Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Then, it was to base ourselves for three months in Southern Italy at a friend’s family home.

"It's been a real roller-coaster of emotions over the last week, so it's fair to say we’ll all remain anxious until the wheels of those planes land safely here at home," she said.

Widdicombe, meanwhile, admits her fears about being infected with the virus are growing.

"The longer we stay here, the more likely it is that we will get it in Peru," she said. "If we get it, we will have to stay here for at least an extra four weeks. We need flights home now so this doesn’t happen.

"Canadians need to get home to their own health-care system."

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Stranded Canadian travellers call on Trudeau for flights home

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

Justin Bieber postpones all 2020 tour dates due to COVID-19 .
TORONTO — Justin Bieber has postponed all of his 2020 world tour dates due to the COVID-19 crisis. The Stratford, Ont.-raised pop superstar made the announcement on his social media accounts. The statement says Bieber, his band and dancers have been hard at work preparing for the "Changes" tour in support of his recently released album of the same name. But it adds "he has always put the health and well-being of his fans first and foremost." TheThe Stratford, Ont.-raised pop superstar made the announcement on his social media accounts.

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