Northern Ireland

Coronavirus: Antrim man hopes to be on rescue flight

Cusco Image copyright Andy Young
Image caption The streets of Cusco in Peru are empty

A County Antrim man is hoping to be on a rescue flight home from Peru this weekend as the country's lock-down continues.

The first flight chartered by the government from Peru - carrying more than 200 stranded Britons - arrived at London's Heathrow airport on Thursday.

About 1,000 Britons had registered with the UK embassy in Lima seeking to come home.

Andy Young, 40, from Carrickfergus, County Antrim, was on holiday in Peru.

The Peruvian government placed the country into lockdown on 16 March, with no flights allowed to enter or leave without government permission.

Mr Young is among hundreds of British and Irish tourists in the South American country who fear being stranded “for months” after reports that new quarantine rules placed some tourists on a three-month lock-down in their accommodation due to confirmed cases in the building.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said more flights were likely "in the coming days" as negotiations continue with the Peruvian authorities.

Andy is staying in a hostel in Cucso, a town popular with British and Irish holiday-makers who want to see Machu Picchu.

He said there was a police and army presence in the town.

Image copyright Andy Young
Image caption Andy Young was on holiday in Cusco

Mr Young added there were many in his hostel waiting for an update from the British embassy about a flight home.

"Some people were freaking out that the first flight had gone and they weren't on it," he said.

"I know there are people with greater needs than me, but ideally I would like to be on one by the weekend because you can sense the change."

The IT worker said he was concerned about getting into financial difficulty if he was forced to stay.

He said there was confusion about what was happening since the country went into a 15-day lockdown on the second day of his two-week holiday.

"Two weeks ago, when I left home, seems like two years ago as things have escalated so quickly," he said.

"I didn't hear any warning of a lock-down until I woke up and it had happened."

Mr Young said he was relying on news from home to keep up-to-date.

"The situation is changing all the time," he said.

"I am in a hostel with a shared kitchen and dormitories with 120 other people, many of them Irish and British, so in terms of self-isolation it is not ideal.

"Originally there was a bit of a novelty, but people are starting to climb the walls."