Coronavirus: Mandatory quarantine in Philippines leaves Canadians trapped abroad

Torontonian Melissa Woolfson and her boyfriend, Devin, are trapped halfway across the world after the Filipino city of Bacolod, where they currently reside, released an executive order, quarantining everyone in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are essentially stuck here,” Woolfson explained over the phone to Global News early Wednesday.

Coronavirus has officially been declared a pandemic. Now what?

The 25-year-old has been interning with Global Affairs Canada International Youth program for the last 5 months and was set to return to Ontario on April 26.

On March 8, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte deemed the novel coronovirus outbreak a public health emergency.

What it’s like for a Canadian stranded abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic

What it’s like for a Canadian stranded abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic

Days later on March 11, the World Health Organization confirmed COVID-19 officially a global pandemic. Woolfson said that’s when the Canadian government began to make plans to bring interns home early.

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But things, she said, began to change rapidly.

And one week later, Woolfson said the mayor of Bacolod put the city under a mandatory quarantine with “no warning.”

Now, she is hoping a last-ditch flight to Manilla will get her home.

Woolfson learned of the tourist-only flight early Wednesday afternoon, telling Global News she isn’t allowed to buy tickets. Instead, she will have to lineup at 9 a.m. Thursday to “hopefully get on the flight.”

Woolfson added her colleague and three other interns are also caught in the Filipino lockdown.

‘Help us:’ Canadians stuck abroad ask the feds to send help amid coronavirus pandemic

Global News has reached out to Global Affairs Canada but did not hear back at the time this article was published.

According to the Trudeau government, there are about three million Canadians working and living abroad, many of them stranded as borders close and airlines ground planes.

“I think it’s just realistic to know that there are some of them that will not be coming home in the coming weeks, but we will make measures available through Global Affairs Canada,” Trudeau said outside his home in Ottawa on Tuesday.

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The federal government has made loans available to those abroad totaling $5,000 per person for flights and accommodations as lockdowns become the norm.

READ MORE: Coronavirus outbreak: Couple stuck in Spain amid COVID-19 outbreak as Canadians abroad try to return home

“At a time like this you want to be home with family…in the Canadian medical care system in case you do get sick,” Woolfson said.

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Stressed out she might not be able to get home and, like many other Canadians, may have to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic abroad.


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