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Coronavirus: Hundreds of Shropshire residents stranded abroad during lockdown

By Rory Smith | Bridgnorth | Coronavirus | Published:

Work is being done to repatriate hundreds of Shropshire people stuck abroad in what is "undoubtedly the largest evacuation ever undertaken in peacetime", a Ludlow MP has said.

Philip Dunne spoke of how one of the latest success stories involves a resident who was granted a medical evacuation from America to Telford's Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) at the weekend after the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs the county's two acute hospitals, was able to allocate him a bed.

He was one of hundreds of residents from across the county stuck in countries across the world due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

This comes as the government earlier this week announced an unprecedented £75 million fund for commercial airlines to aid them in rescuing Britons stuck abroad.

Mr Dunne said civic leaders were working "around the clock" to ensure those stranded could return home as soon as possible.

The Tory MP said: "One of my members of staff has been pretty much full time in helping people in those situations – borders got shut quite suddenly, often with very little notice given.

"The Foreign Office has been working flat out to try and help them and we've had some success so far.

"For example, intervening to help a constituent who had been stuck in a hospital in Florida after suffering a stroke.

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"His wife had to leave him there as she wasn't able to travel on a medical evacuation and he was only able to board a plane as a medical evacuee if there was a hospital bed allocated for him in the UK.

"With the great work of SaTH, we managed to get a bed sorted for him in PRH and he was put on a plane at the weekend."

'Extremely encouraged'

The great work has been echoed by residents all throughout Shropshire, who have come to the aid of the elderly, vulnerable and those self-isolating.

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Mr Dunne said he was "extremely encouraged" by his constituents.

"In general, the level of compliance is very high and the the thing that's most impressive is the extent of volunteering. It's really brought out the best in people," he said.

"I've been in touch with a large number of volunteer groups set up around the constituency and have evening calls with a couple which tell me what's going on locally.

"There are literally hundreds of people offering to volunteer, whether it be in little groups springing up in small, rural communities, or the bigger towns which can coordinate larger numbers of volunteers."

Mr Dunne, who has an underlying lung condition, has been self-isolating in his household of six and hit the two-week mark on Tuesday.

He added his family have been keeping busy with an 8.30am daily exercise class, taking walks around his rural farm and creating cooking and cleaning rotas to "bring some kind of structure to the day".

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley, Telford.

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