The family of a British woman stranded in South America due to coronavirus travel restrictions has pleaded for help to bring her home.
Stephanie Kidd, 30, has been locked up in a hostel in Peru with seven other people since 15 March, when a national emergency was declared in the country as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
She says the UK government has told her there is not enough room for her on the repatriation flight home and to hope another plane is allowed to leave the country.
Kidd, from Bournemouth, Dorset, said: “We are not allowed out of the hostel. I need to get home now. I have been FaceTiming my family and they are very, very worried.”
She said she was losing weight and suffering anxiety due to the uncertainty of her situation.
Although she and the people she is with “are now receiving emails from the [British] embassy, communication from the government has been terrible,” she said.
“We didn’t hear from anyone for five days and the embassy closed, so we felt abandoned.”
Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice
She added: “The first email that finally was sent out was showing everyone's email addresses. As well as being extremely unprofessional, people were confused to whether this email was true as it was a gmail account and not a .gov address.
“The German government have contacted their citizens every day, even if it's to let them know they are still working on it!
“Days are difficult and I have been upset a lot and struggled with sleep. The key is to keep positive and busy so some days I've done workouts, baking and my TEFL course. However, other days I have felt low and not like doing anything at all.”
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said he had secured permission for a UK-organised flight to leave Peru for the UK in coming days, but Kidd will not be on that flight as it has been prioritised for the most vulnerable.
Britons left in Peru have to hope the plane is allowed to make a return journey to collect them – something that cannot be guaranteed due to tight travel restrictions.
The group have also been told they will have to pay £250 for the rescue.
She said: “I am happy to pay £250 to get home. We were originally asked to pay £3,000 and then it went down to £2,000, which just seemed ridiculous.
“We felt we were being exploited in a difficult situation. Again, these were from the gmail address so we were also unsure if it was a scam.
“I am worried about getting home and I will be until I receive an email confirming the date I can fly. Another obstacle in this is that I'm in Cusco, close to Machu Pichu. Cusco is a day-long bus journey from Lima [the capital].
“We have had no confirmation about how we will get to Lima as we are in lockdown. Can they even organise a bus? Many people have been asking this question, with no response from the government as of yet.”
An online petition to repatriate Britons stranded in Peru has already attracted 43,000 signatures.
Kidd’s brother Fraser told Yahoo News UK: “We just want to get Stephanie home and safe in these unprecedented times.
“Though I’m sure she is being looked after in Peru, I don’t feel confident that will continue depending how long this goes on for.
“We are all fearful of what could happen, and are doing what we can as a family to ensure a safe return for Stephanie, her friend Shauna and other British nationals.”
Kidd’s sister Danielle told Yahoo News UK she fears for her sister’s health.
She said: “I am worried about Steff, she has been stuck in the hostel for almost two weeks now. Other than a email on Saturday she hasn’t received any reassurance that she will get back to the UK any time soon.
“My sister is hardly sleeping or eating, which is a worry as she is on the other side of the world.
“I have two small children and a husband who is a bus driver in London, we are trying to remain positive throughout current events. With my sister being stuck in Peru it is adding to our worries.”
Following a call with the Peruvian foreign minister, Raab said: “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.”
Kidd told Yahoo News UK: “All I would like to say to Dominic Raab is that I understand it is an extremely hard time for the government, but to have no contact from the embassy for five days is disappointing.
“He announced two days after we were put into quarantine that bringing all Brits abroad home is unrealistic, which obviously only added to everyone's worry.”
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “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.”