Coronavirus: Tourist stuck in Peru 'fighting for breath'

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Nick Blake and Briony BlackwellImage source, BrionyBlackwell
Image caption,
Briony Blackwell said she was struggling to breathe at altitude due to her only having one lung

A British woman with one lung who is stuck at high altitude has said she has been "fighting for breath".

Briony Blackwell, 30, said she was stranded in Cusco, Peru, after her flight out of the city was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ms Blackwell has contacted the Foreign Office and her local MP over her situation.

Victoria Prentis, MP for Banbury, said she was "doing everything" to help and was in contact with the Foreign Office.

"I sincerely hope we can get her home as soon as possible," Ms Prentis said.

Ms Blackwell, from Banbury, and her husband Nick left home in August to embark on an "adult gap year" they hoped would be the "adventure of a lifetime".

From Bolivia they took a long bus journey to Cusco, which is in the Andes and was the capital of the Inca Empire, arriving on 15 March.

She said they booked with a tourist company and there was no mention of the virus being an issue in Peru when they boarded the bus.

Image source, BrionyBlackwell
Image caption,
Briony Blackwell embarked on an "adventure of a lifetime" with her husband Nick August 2019.

The following day Peru issued a national lockdown and Ms Blackwell, due to fly to Colombia three days later, was faced with cancelled flights and suspended public transport services.

Ms Blackwell told the BBC she had been left with one lung after battling lung cancer, and found it difficult to breathe staying in Cusco, which is 3,400m (11,200ft) above sea level and can see visitors experience severe altitude sickness.

"Getting out of bed to shower is leaving me breathless. Climbing the stairs from reception, by the top I'm fighting for breath," she said.

"If breathing were to get any harder for me right now I'd need a machine to help me. I dread to think how I'd cope if I caught it (Covid-19) here."

The foreign secretary, Dominc Raab, has been trying to arrange for flights from Cusco back to the UK, but Ms Blackwell has criticised the lack of response from officials and politicians. The BBC has contacted the Foreign Office over Ms Blackwell's situation.

Ms Prentis said she and her team were "doing everything we can to help Briony, as well as any other constituents who are stranded abroad, return home".