THREE healthcare workers from West Cork are now in lockdown in New Zealand and urgently seeking a flight home before all flights from there are suspended next Monday (March 30th).
Sinead O’Regan (31), a physiotherapist from Rosscarbery, along with Siobhan O’Donovan, a nurse from Rosscarbery, and Alison Draper, a healthcare assistant from Skibbereen, are appealing to the three West Cork TDs to work with the Department of Foreign Affairs to get them home before all flights are grounded.
Speaking to The Southern Star at 11pm on Wednesday night (New Zealand time) Sinead said: ‘We are 60 minutes away from a national emergency management agency alert that will see the whole of New Zealand moved to a Covid-19 level 4 alert.’
The alert states: ‘Where you stay tonight is where YOU MUST stay from now on. You must only be in physical contact with those you are living with.’ Sinead said the trio, who travelled to New Zealand for a holiday, have been doing everything to help themselves but their desperate search to purchase tickets home. Airline Emirates stopped their flight without any explanation, on March 25th.
But she said they are finding the task impossible due to the ‘non-transit’ restrictions in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. The option of travelling via LA or Canada is also being hampered by the need for visas.
The West Cork women have joined a WhatsApp group of about 90 Irish people, currently stranded in New Zealand, many of whom will – tonight – become homeless because Air B&Bs, hotels and hostels are no longer offering accommodation.
A family friend has offered the West Cork women temporary accommodation, but Sinead said: ‘We want to get home. Lockdown is happening tonight and we don’t know what that means.
We are all tired, and a bit emotional.’
She said they have registered with the Irish embassy and are tagging Irish politicians – including Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney – on their Instagram posts.
‘We know work is being done at home,’ said Sinead, ‘but we have, as yet, no solution to our situation.’