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Coronavirus: 'Stuck in London due to Mauritius quarantine fee'

By Nora Fakim
BBC News

image captionShahin Kadir says she cannot afford to pay her government's compulsory quarantine fees

A woman stranded in London after travelling to the capital from Mauritius in April has said she cannot afford her government's return fee.

Shahin Kadir, 30, from Mauritius, has been stuck in north London after her country closed its borders in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Borders have reopened but the Mauritian government said those returning must pay quarantine fees.

Ms Kadir said the compulsory fee was another obstacle for her community.

  • Mauritius country profile

She was on holiday in London at the beginning of March when Mauritian borders closed.

After the borders closed on 18 March, Ms Kadir was on a repatriation flight but it was cancelled in April.

"I came to London on a tourist visa and I don't have the money to pay for a ticket home for about £800 and a quarantine fee of around £1,300," she told the BBC.

"I had to do a Covid-19 test in the UK which was around £200 so it is costing me around £2,000 to go back.

"It's not something right now I can afford to pay."

'Isolated and stressed'

Ms Kadir has been able to stay with relatives in Haringey for the past six months but said others in her community had not been as fortunate.

"I do feel isolated, stressed and depressed sometimes because I have to deal with embassy, immigration and the airlines," she said.

"It's not something for a human being to deal with for six months. At the end we were expecting some light from our government to help us - but now they are asking us for so much money."

The Mauritian government said about 50 special repatriation flights had been carried out from various capitals since 21 March and it had airlifted a total of 8,979 stranded Mauritian nationals comprising of 2,430 employees of cruise liners.

It said it was now offering loans to those who cannot afford quarantine fees on return.

To qualify for the loan applicants must earn a minimum monthly income of MUR 15,000 (£291).

Ms Kadir, who was made redundant due to the crisis, said because of that she would not qualify for a loan.

Anyone entering Mauritius would be placed into a quarantine centre for a minimum of 14 days.

image captionThe Mauritian government said it was offering loans to those who cannot afford quarantine fees on return

"In the case of Mauritian nationals who are financially distressed, they or their relatives can avail of the above-mentioned special loan arrangements to meet their travel costs," it said.

Cader Hossenally, organiser of The Mauritian Diaspora scheme in London, said: "The Mauritians came here and left their country in the '60s.

"In difficult times they have been supportive to Mauritius for 50 years and this is the time the government should take care of them. "

The Mauritian government added: "In the UK, those who registered for repatriation before September 2020 have been provided with an opportunity to fly back to their country.

"More than 2,200 have availed of the offer and have returned on the repatriation flights."

Related Topics

  • Mauritius
  • Coronavirus lockdown measures
  • Haringey
  • Haringey London Borough Council

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