Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Coronavirus: IOM residents to be repatriated in 'staggered' way

Douglas Image copyright David Kneale
Image caption Islanders will be repatriated in limited numbers each day, the chief minister said

Isle of Man residents stranded overseas will be allowed to return home in a "safe and staggered manner", Chief Minister Howard Quayle has promised.

The Manx border was closed to almost all arrivals last week in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus.

While many Manx residents made it home, the government believes 38 people are stuck in the UK and 131 elsewhere.

Mr Quayle said a plan would be ready by Monday to assist them, but warned not everybody could be helped immediately.

"We will make our decisions on evidence and the best clinical advice," he added.

Anyone outside the UK must rely on the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office to aid their return, Mr Quayle continued.

Stranded in India

One of those stranded overseas is 67-year-old Alan Bell, who is currently in the Indian state of Goa.

Mr Bell has been in India since 6 January, five days before China confirmed the worlds first known coronavirus death.

"We followed advice to the letter from the moment this started," said Mr Bell.

Image copyright Alan Bell
Image caption Alan Bell is living under lockdown measures in Goa

Initial guidance from the UK government told British travellers they did not need to return to the UK.

That changed on 23 March, however.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a nationwide lockdown the following day, leaving Mr Bell stuck with his friend Mike Dean.

Because they have no cooking facilities, the pair are relying on a nearby restaurant "to get a meal a day", Mr Bell said.

Even if they reached the UK, they would not be able to enter the Isle of Man until restrictions are lifted or they are invited to do so.

Mr Bell said he had sought guidance from the chief minister and "his emails have been acknowledged but we've received nothing".

He said not being able to get home was his "biggest fear".

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