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Downpatrick family 'ecstatic' as Shauna Polly finally returns home safe after Peru coronavirus lockdown


From left: Shauna Polly with mum Claire and sister Natasha

From left: Shauna Polly with mum Claire and sister Natasha

From left: Shauna Polly with mum Claire and sister Natasha

A Downpatrick woman who was stranded in Peru for weeks was finally reunited with her family in Dublin yesterday.

Shauna Polly (27) had been in lockdown in a hostel in the Cusco region with other travellers and faced being stuck for months.

Her return comes as hundreds of British and Irish citizens in other countries like Australia and New Zealand are still desperately trying to get home.

Greeted with open arms in Dublin Airport by her "ecstatic" mother Claire and sister Natasha, Shauna was on a rescue flight from Peru arranged by the Irish Government.

Two planes arranged by the UK Government also arrived in Heathrow yesterday, with more to follow this week.

Speaking ahead of the reunion, Shauna's mother said she had asked the Irish Foreign Office for help after losing patience with the UK Government.

Part of the difficulty had been that Shauna was a 24-hour drive away from an airport in Lima with no access to transport.

Her mother said: "I registered her with the Irish Foreign Office in Dublin last Tuesday after frustration on hearing no information on flights home from the UK Government. They very professionally and quickly contacted her on Friday confirming her details and gave her instructions for travel, and she started her journey home on Saturday morning."

She added: "I cannot thank (Irish Foreign Affairs Minister) Simon Coveney and the Irish Department for Foreign Affairs enough for their swift action and professionalism in the way they handled getting all the Irish back to their home safely on Irish soil."

Shauna had to separate from her friend Stephanie Kidd (30) from Bournemouth on Saturday, but she has also started her journey home as more rescue flights arrived. The gruelling journey for Shauna included a 24-hour bus trip to a military base in Lima followed by a 12 and a half hour flight to London Heathrow and a connecting flight to Dublin.

Carol said: "I am so elated to be getting her home at this very worrying and surreal time we are living in."

Having already been in quarantine for 15 days in Cusco, Shauna will now spend another 14 days in quarantine at home with her family.

Liz Canavan, assistant secretary at the Department of the Taoiseach, thanked the Peruvian authorities for their help.

"Our embassy arranged for the transfer by road of many of our citizens from remote parts of Peru to the airport in Lima, journeys which in some cases took over 24 hours," she said.

A number of British citizens repatriated from Peru yesterday said it had been a "confusing and stressful" experience.

Shona McKenna had been in South America since the start of the year.

Speaking to ITV, she said: "We had 50 people on standby but only 12 turned up to the airport.

"The communication wasn't great, we didn't know when we were going to come home and when the emails came out there wasn't a lot of time."

Belfast Telegraph