Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 3 April 2020

Coronavirus: Pregnant Dubai resident stranded in US as travel ban looms

The Dubai teacher is unable to get back to her husband in the UAE

Hannah O'Reilly at her baby shower in the US. Courtesy: Hannah O'Reilly
Hannah O'Reilly at her baby shower in the US. Courtesy: Hannah O'Reilly

A Dubai resident, who is six months pregnant, is stranded in the United States on the eve of a two-week shutdown of flights to and from the UAE.

Hannah O Reilly travelled to the US on March 11 to spend time with her mother, who had undergone cancer surgery.

But the American supply teacher was left scrambling to rearrange her flight home when she learnt a travel ban was being brought into force, as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

She is thousands of kilometres from husband Daniel, a British IT architect, who is unable to fly from the UAE to be with her due to the imminent restrictions on travel.

Last week, the UAE announced all non-Emiratis would be temporarily stopped from entering the country as part of precautionary measures.

This week, the General Civil Aviation Authority said passenger flights in and out of the UAE would be suspended for two weeks from Wednesday, March 25.

Hannah O'Reilly with her husband, Daniel. Courtesy: Hannah O'Reilly
Hannah O Reilly with her husband, Daniel. Courtesy: Hannah O Reilly

“It’s starting to feel like the walls are closing in as people are getting very sick here," said Ms O Reilly, who is staying with relatives in New Jersey.

“On Tuesday (March 17), my birthday, I woke up to the news that UAE was urging residents to return. I changed my return flight to as soon as possible but the next day no one could board anymore as the ban was coming and a flight from New York would be too long to make it in time.”

She took to Twitter this week to try to draw attention to her plight.

The couple have been in touch with Emirates airline to assess whether her circumstances make her eligible for special dispensation to return to the UAE.

“I trust the process of the UAE always, but I fear the timeline of the rest of the world. I wish the US had been taking the same steps as UAE from the start. I’m grateful to the UAE for how they’ve taken this all seriously”.

Ms O Reilly has been in regular contact with the UAE embassy in Washington DC too.

“I have resigned to be patient while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation goes through all the cases that have been submitted, and I trust they have a plan."

Emirates said it understands the disruption recent restrictions on travel have placed on its customers.

"Our teams have been working hard to inform customers and re-book as many as possible on to our remaining flights or others. But with many airlines having already significantly reduced their flights, it simply is not possible to accommodate every traveller," Emirates said.

Updated: March 24, 2020 07:06 PM

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