Life-threatening disease: Airline rescues trapped woman
A BRISBANE woman concerned she could end up in a life-threatening coma after being stranded in the Philippines due to lockdowns in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak has been evacuated from the country.
Molly Pitkin, 20, and her travelling companions were given the last seats on a Cathay Pacific flight from Mactan-Cebu International airport to Sydney, via Hong Kong, late Wednesday after the Courier Mail contacted the airline to inform them of the Type 1 Diabetic's plight.
Miss Pitkin, from Ipswich, was concerned she could go into a diabetic coma if she could not return to Australia within the next few days after failing to find anywhere local that sold either needle heads or supplies for her insulin pump.
Natalie Grosch, 29, of Woolloongabba, Philadelphia Rodgers, 21, of Slacks Creek and Miss Picton had travelled to Siargao Island on March 8 for a short holiday, but when they checked in for their flight home on March 15 discovered it had been cancelled in the wake of the airline chaos caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns.
They had been sleeping at the Cebu airport ever since trying to get on any flight to Australia.
While standing in a queue at the Cathay Pacific terminal as they continued to try to get an earlier flight Wednesday, Miss Pitkin told the Courier Mail via WhatsApp that she said she packed triple the amount of insulin she needed for her holiday, but that she could run out within days if the remaining few international flights out of the country were also cancelled.
"I could go into a diabetic coma, which means at least hospitalisation for about a week," she said.
The friends had rebooked flights to Australia three times at a combined additional cost of $5000, but each of those flights had subsequently been cancelled.
They had booked on a Cathay Pacific flight scheduled to leave Thursday night but were afraid that, too would be cancelled prior to departure as the Philippines goes into lockdown for 30 days in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Cathay Pacific spokeswoman Amelie Cazzulino said after being informed of Miss Pitkin's plight by the Courier Mail, the team at the Cebu airport managed to place the three women and two Gold Coast residents they had been stranded with on a Wednesday flight that departed two hours later.
"Just confirming that our team at Cebu airport were able to place (them) … and they are on their way back home to Sydney, which we're very appreciative of in these difficult conditions," she said.
"We are grateful we could bring them home as we like to do anything we can do to help people in need of special assistance."
The Queenslanders are expected to arrive in Sydney today.
A GoFundMe called 'Trapped in the Philippines' has been set up to help get the women get home after the thousands of dollars they had to outlay - and lost - through having to book four new flights, three of which were then cancelled.
The friends had to borrow money from a family member in order to book more flights said they would not be able to receive refunds for the cancelled flights for weeks and in one case, Jetstar would only issue a travel voucher.
Besides the curfew, the Governor of the Province of Cebu has also imposed a 30 day mitigation period in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.