Parents scrambling to get kids out of UK - RTHK
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Parents scrambling to get kids out of UK

2020-03-16 HKT 13:22
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  • Many Hong Kong students studying in the UK are trying to get back home amid growing concerns over the country's coronavirus strategy. Image: Shutterstock
    Many Hong Kong students studying in the UK are trying to get back home amid growing concerns over the country's coronavirus strategy. Image: Shutterstock
Parents of students studying in the UK are pulling out all the stops to try to get their kids back home, ahead of the imposition of a mandatory 14-day quarantine on all travellers from the country due to come into force here on Thursday, as all available direct flights quickly got booked up.

An education consultant said he has heard of parents organising chartered flights, or buying HK$100,000 first-class tickets.

Many parents are reportedly unhappy with the UK’s approach to manage the coronavirus pandemic by encouraging the building up of a ‘herd immunity’ among the population rather than put in place more restrictive measures, saying such a strategy will put their children at risk.

One worried mother told RTHK’s Millennium programme that her daughter is interning at a UK hospital, and she’s still undecided whether to bring her home or not.

“Students in England aren’t allowed to wear face masks in class”, she complained.

“The teachers explicitly told students that they can’t even wear masks in hospitals.”

But she said as classes have not been suspended, pulling her daughter out of school mid-semester could create big problems academically.

“We’re enquiring when classes will be suspended before we decide whether she can come back.”

Other parents have already decided to bring their children back as soon as possible. One education consultant told RTHK he has received more than 100 enquiries over the past week.

Some are buying first-class tickets or even chartering flights to bring their kids home, but the consultant said others are taking a more budget-conscious approach, booking indirect flights through less-busy locations like Birmingham, to fly their children to Dubai before arranging another flight back to Hong Kong.

Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) legislator Alice Mak urged the government to send chartered flights to the UK just like they did to repatriate stranded HongKongers from the infected cruise ship in Japan, and those who were stuck in Wuhan.

She said many parents have reached out to the FTU for help.

“They are not satisfied and in fact disappointed about the UK government’s handling this disease. The parents are very concerned about the outbreak in the UK, so we urge the SAR government to consider sending flights to receive our students back to Hong Kong.”

Cathay Pacific announced that it is organising nine additional flights from Heathrow to Hong Kong for this week to help increase capacity.

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Last updated: 2020-03-16 HKT 15:52