A WOKING couple are trapped in New Zealand after flights out of the country were cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Jan Rubin, who is a volunteer at The Lightbox, went with her husband Mo for his 80th birthday to see their son Jonathan in Melbourne.

They decided to extend their holiday to take in New Zealand, which they had never previously visited, and do some bird watching and go on a safari in Sri Lanka.

During a tour of New Zealand, covering the South and North Islands, their flight home was cancelled as the country closed its borders to stop the virus spreading.

There are 155 cases of COVID-19 among a population of about 4.8 million.

Jan said she and Mo have now been in New Zealand for four weeks and a lockdown announced by Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister, earlier this week, meant that they could be stuck in the country for at least a further four weeks.

“Hotels are closing and our money is running out,” Jan told the News & Mail from a hotel in Christchurch on the South Island.

“We are getting a bit desperate.”

Jan said there were about a dozen other foreign visitors in their hotel, including tourists from Germany and South Africa.

“None of us has the virus, so we are fit and well enough to travel and will obviously be happy to go into isolation when we get home.”

She said that she and Mo were hoping to get to Auckland and wait for an available flight.

“Our Government has helped in Peru to get people home. We would like some pressure to be put on the Government to arrange some form of repatriation with greatest urgency for the thousands of  British citizens stranded through no fault of their own.”

The News & Mail  has passed on Jan’s message to Jonathan Lord, the Woking MP.

For the full story get the 26 March edition of the News & Mail