Coronavirus: British tourists stuck in Peru to be rescued next week

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Image source, Reuters
Image caption, The Peruvian government has closed its borders and put the population in lockdown

Rescue flights to bring back hundreds of British tourists stranded in Peru will begin next week, the Foreign Office has said.

Around 400 UK nationals are stuck in the South American country after it closed its borders and stopped all flights amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab secured permission for a UK flight to leave Peru, the Foreign Office said.

It added officials will work to arrange further flights in coming days.

The Peruvian government placed the country into lockdown last Monday, with no flights allowed to enter or leave without government permission.

A nine-hour curfew is also in place between 20:00 and 5:00 and all shops are closed except for pharmacies and stores selling food.

Image source, Ffred and Menir Ffrancis
Image caption, Ffred and Meinir Ffrancis are among 400 UK tourists currently stranded in Peru

Earlier this week, some of the Britons stuck in the country said they faced serious health problems or were running out of cash.

Many said they felt the UK government was not doing enough to get them home at a time when other nations - like Germany and Israel - were funding the high costs of repatriations.

On Saturday, the Foreign Office said Mr Raab had spoken to his Peruvian counterpart and secured permission for a flight to leave early next week.

Mr Raab tweeted: "I had a good conversation this afternoon with my opposite number in Peru, Gustavo Meza-Cuadra.

"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."

The Foreign Office said: "We will continue working closely with the Peruvian government to arrange further flights in coming days.

Earlier this week, the government said tourists must pay for their own airline tickets home once a flight becomes available.

At that time, the only commercial carrier that had offered to help was charging $3,000-$3,500 (£2,570-£3,000) for a one-way ticket - almost 10 times the normal price

It comes as the number of people who have died in the UK with coronavirus rose to 233, as cases topped 5,000.

'We can't go anywhere'

Image source, Danielle Cook
Image caption, Danielle Cook has learned that her father has recently passed away (pictured with partner Matthew Houghton)

Danielle Cook, 32, and her partner Matthew Houghton, 34, from Yorkshire are among those stuck in Peru. Ms Cook's father died a few days ago.

"My family has not been able to make any funeral arrangements and I feel so guilty being here," she says.

The couple and nine others, including Dutch and Canadian travellers, had gone to Peru to see the mountain Machu Picchu, but they are all now holed up at an Airbnb in Cusco.

Also stranded is 70-year-old Ffred Ffrancis from Wales, who said: "We can't go anywhere, we are stuck in our hotel - we are only allowed to go out to get food, money or medication.

"I have a heart condition, so being at high altitudes it is fine for a few days but we don't know long how we'll be here for."

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