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Coronavirus Kent: Couple trapped in Northern Cyprus need help getting home

A Kent couple who are stuck in quarantine in a Cypriot hotel fear they will not be able to get home.

Linda and Grant Gibson, from Lyminge, near Folkestone, have been trapped in their room at the Salamis Bay Conti Hotel, in the north of the country, for 10 days.

Grant and Linda Gibson are stuck in Cyprus
Grant and Linda Gibson are stuck in Cyprus

Neither of them are displaying symptoms of Covid-19, but other people staying at the resort have been diagnosed with the virus.

Their 14 day quarantine ends on March 24, but even then they do not know how they will get back to the UK.

Mr Gibson, 65, said: "We had four lovely days before being placed in quarantine and the nightmare began.

"The end date is the 24th, although we don't know if that is the date we will actually be allowed to leave since we have to then be tested, await results and be given an all clear certificate.

"We are showing no symptoms and hope to be given a negative result at the end of the quarantine.

The abandoned pool, with a man in a white suit on the left
The abandoned pool, with a man in a white suit on the left

"However, 18 cases have been reported here, all Germans and all travelling together.

"We are confined to our room with food and water served in them. At first we were only served rice with boiled vegetables, but the food has since improved.

"Police patrol the grounds to ensure no one gets out or in."

The couple flew to the country for their holiday on March 5 and were due to fly back on March 12.

But they were unable to access this flight due to being placed in quarantine.

The couple were enjoying a lovely holiday before the quarantine
The couple were enjoying a lovely holiday before the quarantine

The couple say all flights to the UK from Southern Cyprus will be suspended after March 21, three days before they are able to leave their hotel.

But even if they were able to leave their room, the border between north and south has now been closed.

After this the only flights leaving from North Cyprus will travel to Turkey - but then the couple fear they will just be trapped there.

Mr Gibson, who has three children and two grandchildren with Linda, said: "We'd just be moving to another problem area.

"We are trying to stay positive and the support from friends and family at home has been great.

The view from the couple's hotel room
The view from the couple's hotel room

"We know everyone is experiencing difficulties now."

The couple are particularly eager to get home as they provide care for their relative, 99 year old Gladys May Eva, who is the oldest surviving member of the Battle of Britain Filter Room team at Bentley Priory.

Gladys, who helped plot German aircraft as they headed over the sea towards Britain during the battle, is being cared for by others until the couple can return home.

Mr Gibson, a retired Aviation Executive who now work part time at Port Lympne as a safari truck driver, is now communicating with the other British nationals staying at the hotel, and has set up a Whats App group so they can keep their spirits up.

Grant before they were placed in isolation
Grant before they were placed in isolation

He adds: "We've had very limited information, most of which we have had to get for ourselves.

"We are in touch with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British High Commission, but again while sympathetic they can only make representations to the Northern Turkish Cyprus Government.

"So we are stuck and await what the authorities say."

The couple have also been in touch with Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins, and asked him to step in.

He now hopes to arrange a military flight home for British people stranded there.

Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe
Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe

Mr Collins said: "I have taken up this case with the Foreign Office and asked if they would look at organising a flight to get people home from Cyprus, perhaps from the RAF base on the island at Akrotiri."

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