Britons stranded in Tunisia amid coronavirus pandemic

Britons stranded in Tunisia as airline crew refuses to fly to Europe over coronavirus fears
2 min read
23 March, 2020
Local airline staff have refused to fly to Europe over fears they could catch the novel coronavirus, the British embassy has said.
Thousands of British tourists travel to Tunisia every year [AFP]
The British government has been unable to evacuate citizens stranded in Tunisia as local airline staff have refused to fly to Europe over coronavirus fears, the embassy said.

A number of UK nationals are stuck in the North African country after Tunisia suspended flights to all countries on 18 March.

While a number of nations have been able to organise emergency transport with the Tunisian government and flag carrier Tunisair, that option is "now looking extremely difficult" for the United Kingdom, the British embassy in Tunis said in a statement on Sunday. 

Britons had been advised to leave on the final emergency flight to Paris on Sunday after the last flight to the UK took off two days prior, fully booked.

It is increasingly uncertain how British citizens currently in Tunisia will be able to go home.

"Tunisair are unable to find air crew who are prepared to fly to Europe on grounds of their individual safety and potential exposure" to the novel coronavirus, the embassy explained.

"We will continue to look for ways to enable [UK nationals] to return to the UK as soon as is practically possible," the statement added.

In the meantime, British citizens stranded in Tunisia are obliged to stay put, whether they are located in the capital Tunis or elsewhere.

The Tunisian government on Sunday imposed a nationwide lockdown, with residents and tourists only allowed to leave their homes for grocery shopping, medical care or other emergencies.

No inter-city travel is allowed.

Tunisia has so far confirmed 60 cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the novel coronavirus, including three fatalities.

The British embassy in Tunis has not yet responded to a request for comment by The New Arab.

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