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‘Bring us home’: Retired couple’s plea after being stranded in Goa on lockdown

PUBLISHED: 12:10 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:10 30 March 2020

Pauline and Michael Ashley, in a picture taken while they were enjoying their holiday in Goa, before the lockdown over coronavirus. Pic: submitted

Pauline and Michael Ashley, in a picture taken while they were enjoying their holiday in Goa, before the lockdown over coronavirus. Pic: submitted

A former UEA lecturer and city councillor stuck in Goa with no food said he and his wife are living off vegetables given by locals.

Trapped in paradise: the Ashleys are on holiday in Goa near Calangute, famed for its glorious beach. Pic: PATrapped in paradise: the Ashleys are on holiday in Goa near Calangute, famed for its glorious beach. Pic: PA

Michael Ashley, 73 and his wife Pauline, 67, are stranded with no shops open and currently no flights home. Mr Ashley told this newspaper they are managing on a small bit of bread in the morning, nothing all day and then whatever vegetables kind Goan people give them for supper.

“We are extremely worried. Our mood is a roller coaster, sometimes things look promising when we see a bag of vegetables arrive, other days we are very miserable and think how are we going to get home?”

MORE: Airline boss calls for government help as more flights cancelled from Norwich Airport

The couple were on their annual holiday to Goa, which they’ve been doing for 27 years, escaping the British winter and living in a rented house near Calangute and Panaji, when the country went into complete lockdown overnight because of coronavirus.

No one had time to stock up on food or provisions and the curfew is enforced strictly by police.

“What makes us feel sad is that we now feel intimidated here, the lockdown is enforced very severely, you really do have to be careful not to go out, there have been some awful incidents. Some of the police carry guns and the others have big batons which they use with abandon.

“The food is almost entirely vegetables now, we were given a bag of potatoes yesterday because a lorry got through the border, from out of state.

“We support what the Indian government and the Goan state government have been doing to prevent the spread of Covid-19. However, the lockdown here is so strict.

We are pleading with the British government to organise repatriation flights home, as has happened with people stuck in Peru. The situation here is likely to get much worse in the next month as the infection is expected to spread.”

The couple are both running out of their prescription drugs; Mr Ashley needs eye drops for glaucoma and his wife needs painkillers for arthritis. They are also now running out of local currency.

They were booked to return to Heathrow on April 2 with Oman Air, which has cancelled all flights. “The key to really give us hope would be a serious effort to get flights to take us home.“

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