Hundreds of UK British nationals stranded in Peru due to the coronavirus pandemic could be flown home early next week, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has said.
More than 400 British and Irish citizens are believed to be in the South American country, with some fearing they would be unable to leave following a government lockdown.
But the FCO said on Saturday that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had secured permission for a UK-organised flight to leave Peru for “early next week” following a call with his Peruvian counterpart.
I spoke to my counterpart in Peru today, @GMeza_Cuadra and we committed to work together in the coming days, so Britons in Peru and Peruvian nationals in UK can return home, amidst the challenges of tackling Covid-19.— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) March 21, 2020
In a Twitter post, Mr Raab said: “I had a good conversation this afternoon with my opposite number in Peru, Gustavo Meza-Cuadra.
“Amidst all the challenges of tackling Coronavirus, we committed to working together in the coming days to enable UK nationals in Peru and Peruvian nationals in the UK to return home.”
The FCO said it would continue to work with the Peruvian government to arrange further flights in coming days.
“We are working round the clock to make flights available next week for British people who wish to leave Peru but who are currently unable to do so on commercial flights because of the travel restrictions that have been imposed,” an FCO spokesperson said.
UK nationals in Peru earlier said they felt “let down” by the Government’s efforts to help them return home.
Marcus Edgar, 48, who is working in Huanchaco in the north of the country, said 422 UK and Irish citizens had so-far registered on a database to say they were still stranded.
The PR consultant, from Reading, told the PA news agency: “The UK Government has done nothing so far and that is the frustration.
“There are no repatriation flights, and the only way (to get home) is to register your interest in charter planes, and that is ridiculous because they cost £3,000.”
Mr Edgar, who is due to return home on April 2, said a Whatsapp group and database had been created by British nationals in the country, with the details for each person passed to the UK embassy in the city of Lima.
“I think the general feeling from most people is that they feel let down by the lack of communication from the Government,” he said.
Peru is currently on lockdown, with borders closed and no flights allowed to enter or leave the country without government permission.
A curfew is running between 8pm and 5am and all shops are closed except for pharmacies and those selling food.
British nationals had been advised by the Foreign Office to find secure accommodation for the 15-day State of Emergency period.
Caia Daly, 37, from north London, whose nine-month-old baby is recovering from pneumonia, is among those stranded.
Ms Daly, who is originally from Dublin, Ireland, flew to Lima with her husband Carlos Abisrror and two young children in February for a four-week holiday and to see family.
But their Air France flight home, which was scheduled for Friday night, was cancelled, and now they do not know how or when they will get back to the UK.
To make matters worse, Ms Daly spent three days in hospital this week after her baby picked up a virus which led to pneumonia.
Ms Daly told PA: “If things get really bad here I’m worried for my children’s health, particularly with the baby recovering from pneumonia.”
UPDATE: We now advise against all non-essential travel overseas.— Foreign Office 🇬🇧 (@foreignoffice) March 17, 2020
Read our guidance here: https://t.co/1Zz9jms2jG
Follow @FCOtravel for country updates #coronavirus | #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/LcqW7cdztl
More UK nationals are reportedly stuck on board a cruise ship that has docked in Genoa, Italy, after the Spanish and French authorities refused to let them disembark.
Guests of the Costa Pacifica, which left Argentina on March 3 and can hold up to 3,780 guests, are “being held prisoner”, the son of one of those on board has claimed.