Published On: Wed, Mar 25th, 2020

Coronavirus updates: Brits stranded abroad after PM’s return plea now in ‘dire’ situation | UK | News


The Foreign Office changed its travel advice on Sunday as cases continue to rise worldwide. The Foreign office is now urging British nationals to return home as soon as possible.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said his staff were working with other nations and airlines to “overcome barriers”.

Responding to an urgent question in Parliament, Mr Raab said the situation had been made worse by countries closing their borders “with no or little notice”.

Mr Raab said officials were working “night and day” with other governments and airlines to put urgent arrangements into place.

However, Tory MP Caroline Nokes has hit back at efforts to help Britons stranded abroad.

The Romsey and Southampton North MP said many British citizens were stranded as countries closed their borders and airlines cancelled flights.

She said the government’s call for people to return home as quickly as possible were like “empty words” to them.

Moreover, Ms Nokes said many of her constituents were not able to get through to embassy staff on the phone and had received standard e-mail messages telling them to contact their tour operator or insurer.

Many found themselves hundred of miles from airports, with hotel accommodation becoming increasingly scarce.

JUST IN: Coronavirus latest: Tory MP warns UK prisoners could be released early

While he had since managed to book a seat for his son on a flight home via South Korea, Mr Parker said the whole process had been tough.

Ms Nokes quickly adresseed the situation faced by British tourists stranded abroad.

The MP said that commercial flights from many destinations were simply not available, unless they were “priced at tens of thousands of pounds and routed via airports expected to close imminently”.

She added: “Hotels are closing, flights are cancelled, borders are closing and there are no routes home.

“He (Mr Raab) knows the situation is dire – but he knew that last week when he said in the House that we will look and liaise with the airline operators to make sure where there are gaps we can always provide as much support as possible.”

“I ask him to explain how he is working with airlines with unused planes parked at airports around the globe to bring our people home…

“The vision of British citizens sleeping on the streets of Caracas is not a good one.”

Meanwhile, thousands of prisoners in the UK could be released early in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 in jails.

The Tory MP for South Swindon told the House of Commons that 4000 prison staff out of 34,000 are now self-isolaing.

And speaking to the BBC, the MP said he will be “looking very carefully” at the position of 50 prisoners who are pregnant and those on remand.

Of the 9,000 prisoners on remand, Mr Buckland said “quite a few thousand” inmates are due to be freed in the next few months.

Earlier this week, the Prison Officers Association (POA) compared conditions in England’s prisons to those found on cruise ships and the Prison Governors Association has said cases of the virus are inevitable.



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