A British man whose ill father has been stranded in Bangladesh because of the pandemic has said he fears he will not make the repatriation flight because of the local lockdown.
Afzal Rahman, from Romford, Essex, said his father Shafiqur, who suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and epilepsy, is running “dangerously low” on medication.
Mr Rahman said his father, aged 66, travelled to Sylhet, in the country’s north-east, in February, to visit family, before his return flight was cancelled earlier this month.
He has a spot on one of the four new Government-chartered flights from Bangladesh after the family strained their finances to pay the £600 fee after their restaurant business closed down because of coronavirus.
We have been worried sick. He is running dangerously low on medication and we need him back in the UK so he can get his prescriptionsAfzal Rahman
But Mr Rahman, 30, said his father will only get 24 hours’ notice of what flight he is on and is concerned the lockdown will make it difficult to get to the airport in time to board the rescue flight.
Mr Rahman told the PA news agency: “He has been staying with his brothers in Bangladesh but his wife – my mum – and children are at here at home in the UK.
“We have been worried sick. He is running dangerously low on medication and we need him back in the UK so he can get his prescriptions.
“We still don’t know what date he will leave as they let you know 24 hours before. On the booking form they did not take details of his medical needs although they did ask if he needs special assistance – which he doesn’t.
“We are very worried about whether we will be able to arrange transport to the airport under the lockdown.
“The flight cost £600, which is another burden for us as our restaurant business has had to close because of coronavirus. It’s a very difficult financial situation.
“Finally, the flights are now sold out and I have other relatives who are still stranded. It’s really important they put more on as soon as possible.”
Mr Rahman said his father moved to the UK in the 1960s and worked in Indian restaurants before setting up his own.
The Government has said hundreds of Britons stuck in Bangladesh will be repatriated after it chartered four flights as part of a new push to rescue more than 7,000 passengers from south Asia.
Those deemed most at risk from coronavirus, such as people with existing health conditions and the elderly, will be given priority, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said.
The Bangladesh operation comes after the Government announced 17 chartered flights from India and 10 from Pakistan, expected to bring home around 4,000 and 2,500 passengers respectively.
The FCO said it has so far brought back more than 7,300 people on 35 flights from 13 countries.
However, tens of thousands of Britons remain unable to get home from countries around the world after the pandemic severed commercial routes, including some still stuck in Peru after being stopped from accessing the UK’s final rescue flight from the country.