HOURS after all borders to TT were closed, 35 nationals who went on a cruise from Dubai to South Africa are now in Barbados where they may be left stranded as no flights are allowed into the country.
The group, including 34 retired nurses, landed in Barbados at about 4.30 pm on Monday on a British Airways flight from Gatwick Airport, London.
Shamiso Mc Shine, the daughter of Yvette Mc Shine, 63, who went on the cruise with her sister, Virgina Maloney, also in her sixties, is now pleading with government to make arrangements for the passengers to be brought back home.
“We know government is doing what is necessary but we are just asking for some grace,” Mc Shine said.
Newsday was told, Yvette left TT with Maloney for Dubai on Carnival Tuesday. They were part of a group of retired nurses who went the cruise.
They spent three nights in Dubai before the cruise began.
But because of the outbreak they were only able to land on three ports, the last of which was Oman, on the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. That was on March 5.
The 17 days following saw them docked in waters off Cape Town. They were allowed to disembark on Sunday.
Mc Shine said they got an Emirates flight to London then a British Airways flight from Gatwick Airport to Barbados. They landed in Barbados at 4.30 pm Monday. Sources told Newsday all passengers were accounted for and were in good health.
However, they are not sure if they would be able to enter TT as government has blocked re-entry to the country, even to returning nationals, as of 12.01 am on Monday. Mc Shine pointed out that no confirmed cases of the virus were found on the ship.
She described her mother as the glue that kept their family together. She said her relatives were worried for their safety and that of the other passengers on the cruise.
“We are relieved that they are closer to home and they are no longer on the other side of the world. That gives us some sense of peace. But we are still hoping that they would be allowed to come back home. We don’t know what kind of system is being put in place for them as foreigners to Barbados. If they can come home and be quarantined that would be ideal. But we may not have a choice.”
On Saturday, Minister of National Security Stuart Young announced that all borders to TT would be closed at 12.01 on Monday to help contain the spread of covid19.
At a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's, on Monday, Young said there would be no exceptions to the ban. Later at the same press conference the Prime Minister said students in Jamaica and Barbados would be allowed into TT but there would be no other exceptions.
In a Newsday report on Sunday, Young responded to a claim that TT abandoned citizens abroad by saying the closure of the borders was a necessary step.
TT has 52 confirmed cases of covid19, all of which have been deemed as “imported” cases. The bulk of the cases came after more than 60 TT citizens were brought in from a cruise liner which had been docked in the Guadeloupan Bay off Fort De France last week.