A pair of Wigan nurses have finally returned to the UK from Cambodia after being stranded there following the Covid-19 outbreak.
Elaine Morley and Diane Tomlinson, from Appley Bridge and Wigan respectively, were enjoying the trip of a lifetime with colleagues Val Travis and Anna Williams, travelling across Asia since the start of the month.
The group, who work at Winwick Hospital, were due to return home on March 23, until the Covid-19 pandemic grounded flights out of Cambodia to Britain. All further attempts to get home had been unsuccessful, with flight after flight cancelled. They had no idea when they would be able to return home and found themselves quickly running out of cash.
But on Tuesday evening, after maxing out credit cards and spending thousands of pounds on cancelled plane tickets, Elaine and Diane finally returned safely to the UK after an arduous journey home, first flying to Doha in Qatar and then onwards to Britain. They travelled home separately from friends Val and Anna, who are both from Broadgreen, Liverpool. The latter duo bagged the last two seats on a Qatar Airways flight, and were also due to arrive home yesterday morning.
Elaine said: “We left the UK on March 1, starting off in Vietnam. Before we left, we were told everything was fine, we could still come and there was nothing stopping us. We asked the travel agents and insurance company, everything, they said it was fine to still go, so of course we did.
“We had 12 nights in Vietnam, then moved onto Cambodia, travelling around for two to three nights in various places.”
The group were due to return home on an Emirates flight on Monday March 23, but their flight had been cancelled. Frantic efforts to contact the airline were unsuccessful.
After speaking to the British Embassy, they each paid £900 to book their seats on the plane, but within half an hour the booking was cancelled, and they were told it could be up to six weeks before they were refunded.
A Foreign Office spokesperson, said: “We recognize British tourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because of the unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions that are being introduced around the world – often with very little or no notice.” WIGAN TODAY