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Coronavirus Kent: NHS nurses from Whitstable and Deal stranded in India fear police brutality during lockdown

Two nurses stranded in India are pleading for help after the country suspended flights due to the coronavirus crisis.

Lyn Clay, from Deal, and Pauline Reynolds, from Whitstable, left the UK for Goa on March 12 - only to discover their return flights had been cancelled.

Grandmother, Lyn Clay, fears for her own safety. Picture: Lyn Clay
Grandmother, Lyn Clay, fears for her own safety. Picture: Lyn Clay

The women, who are mental health nurses at the Beacon Centre in Ramsgate, are now desperate for money and food as they fight to survive in their hut.

The current situation in India - where a lockdown is being enforced by police officers inflicting violence on those who disobey the rules - has also left them fearing for their safety.

Mother-of-three Ms Clay, 60, said: "It has taken ages to get through to the embassy or consulate and you just get stock replies back.

"On Saturday, we were finally asked to provide our details to the Foreign Office, indicating we wanted to get home urgently."

A petition urging the repatriation of UK citizens stranded in India has gained more than 40,000 signatures.

The pair plea for help from India

Ms Reynold’s granddaughter, Ellie Gibbard, says she has been sharing the petition to all her friends and family as much as possible.

"I’m honestly terrified of them being there on their own, especially with the police brutality," she said.

"They can’t even go and get safe water for themselves without fear of being attacked. I need them home safely as soon as possible.”

Ms Reynold's daughter, Emma, said: "Apart from our fears for the health and safety of our relatives, both Mum and Lyn could actually be helping the NHS in the coronavirus crisis here as they both work full-time.

Emma Reynolds (left) with her mother Pauline. Picture: Emma Reynolds
Emma Reynolds (left) with her mother Pauline. Picture: Emma Reynolds

"We need them home – and we need them home now.”

Last week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spoke with the Indian foreign minister to discuss coordinated international action to tackle the virus - including measures needed to help bring UK and Indian nationals back home.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office told KentOnline: "We recognise British tourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because of the unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions thatare being introduced around the world – often with very little or no notice.

"The FCO is working around the clock to support British travellers in this situation to allow them to come back to the UK.

"The Government is seeking to keep key transit routes open as long as possible and is in touch with international partners and the airline industry to make this happen.

The hut where the pair are stranded in Goa. Picture: Lyn Clay
The hut where the pair are stranded in Goa. Picture: Lyn Clay

"Consular staff are supporting those with urgent need while providing travel advice and support to those still abroad."

The Foreign Office has asked British nationals in India who wish to return to the UK to email Conqry.Newdelhi@fco.gov.uk with details including age, contact, location and any special circumstances.

You can sign the petition here.

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