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Coronavirus: Kingston couple in Spain may be airlifted home, another Kingstonian trapped in Ecuador

Click to play video: 'An elderly Kingston couple stuck in Spain may be air lifted home, while another Kingstonian is trapped in Ecuador' An elderly Kingston couple stuck in Spain may be air lifted home, while another Kingstonian is trapped in Ecuador
WATCH: Suki Falkner and her husband Fred Colwell are stranded in Spain, after trying to leave the country early and Kingstonian Tanya Dooley is also stuck in Ecuador, leading a group of 30 Canadians on an expedition in the Galápagos Islands. – Mar 19, 2020

Editor’s note: This story is an update to an earlier story already published. 

An elderly Kingston couple who are stuck in Spain may have a flight home, but it comes with conditions.

“We, first of all, had some very, very good news,” said 77-year-old Suki Falkner, via a Skype interview from her hotel room in Granada, Spain.

The good news, Falkner says, is that she and her husband, 86-year-old Fred Colwell, are to be evacuated by air ambulance, arranged by their insurance company Alliance on Saturday.

“But as a condition of flying on the air ambulance, could we present a negative coronavirus test for both of us,” Falkner said, explaining the conditions.

READ MORE: Elderly Kingston couple stranded in Spain, trapped because of COVID-19 lockdown

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Falkner said they tried at the hospital where she recently had her hip surgery, but health officials there refused because the couple show no signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

“And [we] found out that they are simply not offering anybody who’s asymptomatic,” said Falkner. “They are not being offered the test.

“So we couldn’t get that.”

In the meantime, the couple’s insurance company is negotiating with the Canadian government to waive the required COVID-19 test.

Yesterday, I was feeling desperate. Today, I am very frightened,” Falkner said.

Meanwhile, Global News has learned of another stranded Kingston, Ont. , woman — this time, in Ecuador.

“I wish people would get on it and save us,” said Tanya Dooley. “We are Canadians just like you guys.

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Dooley was part of an expedition group of 30 Canadians to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador on March 13 when, two days into the trip, the country was locked down and borders began to close.

 

READ MORE: Canada’s foreign affairs minister says COVID-19 test came back negative

“We had flights booked through Quito, Bogota, Washington and then on to Toronto,” Dooley explained, “and that was all cancelled because they started shutting the airports.”

Dooley says she is frustrated and cannot seem to get clear answers from Canadian officials, or even speak to them directly.

“I left a message for the Embassy in Ottawa a couple of days ago,” Dooley said. “I left a voicemail with my phone number. Never heard back.

“I did get an email from the consulate here in Ecuador, and they are working on flights to get us out with Air Canada, but nothing is confirmed at the moment.

“You know, I don’t want to be stuck in Ecuador,” said Dooley. “The people here are very nice.

“But I want to go home. We all want to go home.”

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Global Affairs has said previously that in some instances, Canadians stranded abroad may not be able to return home for an indeterminate period of time.

“Global Affairs Canada is fully aware of the very stressful situation many Canadians abroad are currently facing as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. We are doing everything to provide assistance under these unprecedented circumstances,” a statement from the federal department said.

Officials suggest anyone stranded in another country contact its emergency watch and response centre in Ottawa by calling +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or emailing sos@international.gc.ca.

READ MORE: Can I go for a walk outside during the coronavirus outbreak?

“Due to the high volume of requests, we are working as fast as possible to respond to Canadians,” a Global Affairs spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the Canadian government is ready to provide cnosular services to stranded Canadians where possible, but in some countries where borders have been closed off and flights have been cancelled, some Canadians may have to stay in the country they are in for an unknown period of time.

“If this is the case, we strongly recommend that you follow the advice of local authorities regarding health and safety.”
The Canadian government also offers an emergency loan program to some who may need it, Global Affairs noted.

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