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British Nationals Abroad: Coronavirus

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 5th May 2020.

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Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of British nationals stranded abroad as a result of the covid-19 outbreak who (a) are over the age of 70 and (b) have a serious medical condition who have registered with his Department for flights to return to the UK from abroad.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

Holding answer received on 27 April 2020

The British Government is working with the airline industry and host governments across the world to help bring back British travellers to the UK as part of the plan announced by the Foreign Secretary on 30 March - with up to £75 million available for special charter flights to priority countries, focused on helping the most vulnerable travellers. In some countries, where commercial routes are no longer an option due to countries closing borders, we are working with airlines to charter their aircraft on an at-cost basis to help stranded British travellers return home.

British travellers have been asked to register for flights with Corporate Travel Management (CTM) when charters have been announced for a country. We will prioritise vulnerable British Nationals most at risk from the effects of Coronavirus who normally live in the UK and are trying to return home for these flights, together with their families who normally live with them in the UK. We are giving additional consideration to the local context and the situation of the individual themselves, this can include lock-down processes in country, access to reliable healthcare, possible reduction in access to routine medication, and those at additional risk if they contract the virus for example the elderly or those with pre-existing medical conditions. ​​​​​​​We cannot provide an accurate figure for those currently registered for HMG charter flights because many passengers have registered more than once, have already returned by commercial flights or no longer want to return to the UK.

In many countries, commercial flights have also continued to operate and have been able to return British Nationals to the UK. We are working with host governments to keep flights running and airspace open where possible for this to continue to happen.

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