Aussies Are Stranded Abroad Despite Government Ordering Them Home ASAP
Australians have been left stranded across the world by the coronavirus outbreak, battling a lack of guidance from the government, cancelled flights, border closures and lockdowns in their desperate bid to get home.
Antoinette Makary's parents are in lockdown in Caracas, Venezuela and they're concerned they may soon run out out of medicine.
Norman and Maki Koudsy are in their 60s. They take blood pressure tablets and medication for cholestrol. But the pair only took enough medication to last them the length of their trip -- five weeks.
With the country already facing a shortage of health supplies, they're worried if they aren't evacuated soon they could face severe health implications.
The couple had left Australia on February 6 to visit Maki's mother, when COVID-19 was nothing but a blip on the news radar.
They'd been scheduled to return home Saturday March 21, but as cases of coronavirus grew, Makary and her brother decided to book flights to get their parents home early.
"We booked flights last Friday for them to depart last Sunday. They were at the airport an hour early but everyone started leaving because they'd shut down the flights. No one can get in or out," Makary told 10 daily.
They keep getting travel warnings that they need to get home and they're panicking because they can't get home.
Their anxiety is growing by the day.
In little more than a week, Venezuela has gone from zero cases of COVID-19 to more than 33, with Colombia shutting its border with the country as a preventative measure.
Australia has no embassy in Venezuela and there are few reliable airlines that operate inside the country.
Makary's parents are so stressed that she called her local doctor to see if there's any medication her parents can take for their nerves.
Her father Norman told 10 daily he's worried about "running out of water" because the government often turns the taps off.
The government also regularly shuts off the electricity, meaning they're unable to access the internet and communicate with their family.
"Everything is in lockdown, we're in self-isolation. Last night the military was roaming the streets telling people to go home," he said.
The family says they've been told the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has contacted the Australian embassy in Washington, but they've received no information about how to leave the country.
"Every day my parents call the airport but they're not even answering the phone, there's no one there," Makary said.
"Scott Morrison is sitting there urging Australians to come home before it's too late. Tell me how and I'll do it to get my parents home safe. Please, I'll do it by any means possible."
Hani Chahine, 28, travelled to Beirut in Lebanon to visit his grandmother in early March and is now unable to leave after his flights were cancelled.
Chahine is on Newstart and he's concerned if he was infected with coronavirus he would not be able to afford the hospital bill.
Centrelink has stopped paying Chahine as he's currently out of the country, but the visit was only scheduled to be a couple of weeks.
Now his airline says he won't be able to return until at least the end of the month.
Lebanon announced a sweeping shutdown of the country, including the closure of its airport this week.
"In Lebanon they've closed the restaurants, all shops and everything. No one is able to work. The army is going around to every village and making sure everything is shut," Chahine said.
What I'm most scared about is that if I was to get the coronavirus, you have to pay at the hospital in Lebanon before you even get checked
"I'm also worried about my safety, if anything happens and I can't get to the airport," he told 10 daily.
Lebanon, which is deep in financial crisis, has already recorded more than 99 cases of COVID-19, with more than three people dead from the disease.
Chahine said he's been trying to contact DFAT for days, but hasn't gotten a response.
"At the moment i'm not getting any calls from the government or anyone."
"Get me home please, I do not have any money to get me by. I’m starting to panic, I’m worried and need help! I am an Australian citizen stuck here."
10 daily has contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for comment.
Do you have a story tip to share? Contact Eden at email@example.com