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UK News Special flights to get Britons home as emergency travel loan offered

18:35  24 march  2020
18:35  24 march  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: Britons have been left stranded abroad due to the coronavirus outbreak © Imagebridge Britons have been left stranded abroad due to the coronavirus outbreak

Special flights are being set up to bring home Britons stranded because of the coronavirus lockdown, the foreign secretary has announced.

Dominic Raab said Singapore had agreed to be the transit hub where people stuck in countries like Australia, New Zealand and Peru could fly through on their way back to the UK.

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He also assured travellers unable to afford the cost of a plane ticket back they could get an emergency loan to cover the cost.

But some stranded travellers have painted a different picture, telling Sky News there is little help embassies abroad are giving them.

MPs including Tory backbenchers turned up the heat on the Foreign Office for its record helping Britons stuck abroad get home as countries across the world try to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Dominic Raab wearing a suit and tie: Dominic Raab said emergency loans would be available © PA Dominic Raab said emergency loans would be available

Former immigration minister Caroline Nokes complained of an "MPs' helpline that rings with no answer, emails acknowledged but not replied to, embassies that are closed and staff flown home days ago and doors shut to our travellers".

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You usually cannot get an emergency travel document if you’ve never had a UK passport. You can use an emergency travel document to travel to your destination through a maximum of 5 countries. You can also normally use it to return to the country you’re applying from if you live there.

She claimed airlines are cancelling flights or charging tens of thousands of pounds for a ticket, and countries are banning layovers, preventing Britons from getting home.

"He knows the situation's dire, but he knew that last week," was the barb aimed at the foreign secretary, as Ms Nokes added: "The vision of British citizens sleeping rough on the streets of Caracas [in Venezuela] is not a good one."

Mr Raab tried to assuage travellers' fears by saying a special chartered flight to take people stranded in Peru home would fly back to the UK on Tuesday, with up to 200 seats on board.

The government has lobbied New Zealand and Australia to keep some flights open and to re-open other routes despite the coronavirus pandemic, he added.

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Many Britons now face a nine-day wait to get home . Thousands of UK holidaymakers had expected to be home by now – a full week after the downing of a Russian passenger jet in the Sinai Britons are greeted by loved ones as they arrive at Bristol airport on the Thomson flight from Sharm el-Sheikh.

Traveling with children: If you are traveling with a child, your departure may be facilitated if you have documentary evidence of your relationship, such as the child’s birth certificate, and permission for the child’s travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present.

Mr Raab advised: "If people are in need of urgent assistance they should call our embassies and high commissioners.

"Where people are in real need, our consular teams will work with them to consider their options - as a last resort, we offer an emergency loan."

Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire challenged Mr Raab to explain what support is available for people who have run out of money abroad.

He responded that the Foreign Office "can't, given the scale, provide direct subsidy or grants" to people with no cash left.

Elaine Morley, a nurse stranded in Cambodia, told Sky News it's been "impossible to get home" as all flights home she's booked have been cancelled, leaving her with no money.

"We're stuck in Cambodia with no help, nobody wants to know.

"Our travel agents don't want to know, the British embassy aren't interested - they can't help us financially, they can't help us with accommodation, they can't help with a flight.

Thousands of Britons stranded abroad as virus travel bans kick in

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'Doctor Who' is a British science-fiction TV series that follows the adventures of a time- traveling alien, called the Doctor, and his human companion, as they travel through time and space in a spaceship, called the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), and courageously save the world time

Travellers ' rights - flight delays, cancellations and overbooking (passengers unable to fly on flight they booked). To ensure you have sufficient coverage when travelling with expensive items it's advisable to take If the airline has offered you re-routing and you reach your final destination with a delay of 2

"We're actually stuck here, we don't know who to turn to or what to do next. We just want to go home."

Caroline Hutchings, who's been trying to get home from the Philippines for a week, said all three flights she booked on to have also been cancelled.

She told Sky News she was getting "old" and "conflicting" travel advice from the British embassy there.

"Everything's just a little bit old - which just isn't helpful. You lose trust," said Ms Hutchings.

Britons stuck onboard a cruise ship docked in Lisbon, Portugal, will also be flown home on Tuesday, the country's interior minister said.

The MSC Fantasia, which sailed from Brazil, had one Portuguese traveller who tested positive for coronavirus.

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading - here is what you can and can't do. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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