'Horrendous' - Norfolk couple stuck in South Africa as Omicron spreads
- Credit: Terry Locke
A Norfolk man stuck in South Africa has described his "truly horrendous" ordeal resulting from the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Terry Locke and his partner, Sally Storr, are stranded after several southern African nations were put on the UK government's red list.
Mr Locke initially travelled to the country on November 23 and was joined by Ms Storr on Friday (November 26).
But, as she arrived, news of the travel restrictions began to filter through as passengers switched on their phones.
The couple, from Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham, had planned a relaxing holiday.
Instead, they have been left scrambling to figure out a way home.
Mr Locke has had to cancel flights, find accommodation and take four PCR tests to get back to the UK, where a 10-day quarantine will be necessary.
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The 64-year-old revealed the situation had been compounded by difficulties in arranging a quarantine hotel with Corporate Travel Management (CTM).
"I tried calling and, the first time, I was out on hold for 50 minutes," said Mr Locke.
“We gave up; we lost the will to live trying to book everything.
“I called again and they said ‘we cannot help you - are we not using the website?'. They hung up on us when I explained it was not working."
He added that being stuck in a hotel room had been "truly horrendous".
A spokesman for CTM said 2,800 travellers had successfully booked quarantine hotels since changes to the red list were made.
They added: "CTM is working closely with the Department of Health and relevant parties to ensure transfers, accommodation, testing and security are increased in line with capacity as quickly as possible."
In the end, Mr Locke and Ms Storr had to work their return journey around the availability of quarantine space.
They are set to travel on Monday, December 6, flying into London Heathrow via Nairobi - but still have concerns.
“Who's to say Kenya won’t be put on the red list tomorrow? We'd lose our flights, accommodation and PCR test," said Mr Locke.
“Our credit cards are maxed out paying for everything. If we have to stay here another week we will run out of money.
“The longer we are here heightens the risk of catching Covid and we might not have a negative test to fly home."