Aylesbury woman says 'there was no one to help' as she feared she'd be stuck abroad due to coronavirus crisis
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Last week we reported the plight of a woman from Charndon to return home from Cambodia before Governments closed their borders – that story can be viewed here – and now Susanne Campbell has shared her dramatic tale with us.
Susanne, 37, “born and bred in Aylesbury,” was also coincidentally in Cambodia hoping to enjoy a 20-day holiday with a friend, when the coronavirus outbreak escalated.
The management consultant travelled to Cambodia on 6 March for a relaxing winter break, but about halfway through the trip, as restaurants and tourist sites began to close their doors, it became clear that the safest course of action would be to come home early.
Unfortunately, Susanne soon realised that it might not be that simple. She explained: "Things began to escalate so we started to think about whether we should come back. By Saturday (21 March) we thought we should head into Phnom Penh so we could get a handle on what was going on. When we got to the city we couldn't make contact with the embassy and Thai Airways had shut their telephone lines."
Unable to get flights out of Cambodia, Susanne told us that they considered driving to Vietnam or Thailand in order to get a direct flight home, but then those countries closed they borders in response to the global pandemic.
Things really got serious for the pair when they discovered that Thailand, the stopover for most trips out of Cambodia, including their original flight home, had introduced restrictions on entry meaning people transiting through the airport would need to present a negative coronavirus test and proof of medical insurance up to the value of £100,000.
Susanne said: "I didn't know how I was going to get back because of the restrictions, and there was no help at all."
The next couple of days involved long queues at the hospital to try to get a coronavirus test, and multiple phone calls to her insurance company, neither of which paid dividends. The hospital stopped providing tests and her insurance company was unable to react within the required time frame.
Almost at their wits end, Susanne and her friend then found out that their hotel was closing due to the virus, so they had to spend yet more stressful hours and money finding and checking into a hotel that would still take them.
But then some good news finally came their way. The night before their original flight home – a flight they didn't think they would be boarding - they learned that Thailand had relaxed its restrictions and they would now only require a 'fit to fly' certificate, as opposed to a coronavirus test.
Thus ensued a race to a private clinic the following morning, handing over £100 for the necessary certificate, before going on to the airport to catch their flight home.
Though relieved to be back, Susanne is now facing a fresh challenge. She lives alone and after having some mild symptoms of coronavirus at the weekend, is now self-isolating.
Remarkably, she remains in good spirits and was keen to express gratitude for all the help she's received over the past couple of weeks from her friends. Susanne said: "The overwhelming support I got from my mates in Aylesbury, people starting petitions to try to get me home, loads of people offering to drop food off for me, everybody's come together and I'm really grateful."
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