Omicron variant: ‘I'm pregnant and stuck in South Africa — then my husband was stabbed'

Stranded: Lizzie Edmonds, 32 weeks pregnant, and her husband Steve. (Lizzie Edmonds)

My husband and I am among the hundreds, if not thousands, of UK citizens who are currently stuck in South Africa.

We arrived in to Cape Town on Tuesday, the day the new Omicron variant first became news, and by Thursday night we were stranded – every flight that could have got us home before the red list hotel quarantine deadline, cancelled.

On Saturday night, my husband was attacked in the street and stabbed three times and is – medics say – lucky to be alive.

We now face ten days in a hotel quarantine, despite the fact he is badly injured and likely psychologically scarred, when we eventually get our rescue flight back on Friday.

Oh, and I am 32 weeks pregnant with my first child.

Like many of the 200,000 South Africans living in the UK, Steve – my husband – was excited to finally be flying home after a long 18-month travel ban. When our mandatory PCR tests came back negative on Sunday night, we were thrilled.

After a whirlwind of packing and rushing to the airport, we sat on the Monday overnight flight ready to get a bit of sun and catch up with friends and family before the baby comes.

Tuesday and Wednesday passed with no news, days spent at the beach where Steve’s father and his wife lives.

Steve recovering in bed after being stabbed (Lizzie Edmonds)

But Thursday, an unease began to spread like mould. A new variant had been found in South Africa. It was spreading quickly and was, potentially, more dangerous.

I wasn’t worried, telling my sister-in-law: “Our government has always been so slow to react they won’t shut down travel, it will be weeks before they do that.” How wrong I was.

Our uneasiness was matched by my sister-in-law, Laura, and her husband Michael – both of whom work in the film industry – who slowly throughout the day began getting more and more messages of concern from colleagues.

Tourism and Film are among the city’s largest industries – both rely on international travellers, and in particular those from Europe. After a hideously quiet 18 months, most workers were looking forward to a busy season now the world was largely travel restriction free – one that seemed in grave danger of slipping away.

After a family dinner, we learnt we were stuck via Sajid Javid’s Tweet. No correspondence from an airline, the government or an embassy followed. Just one social media post to break the bad news – flights to South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe had all been suspended to and from the UK. Panic set in.

We spent all night trying to book ourselves a flight out of Cape Town before an alleged Sunday 4am deadline.

We didn’t know if spending the best part of £5,000 on economy flights to Paris was going to actually get us home in time to avoid the financially crippling quarantine hotel.

By Friday morning, most of the film and television industry workers I know had lost six months of upcoming work. Most are self employed.

That’s rent, food and petrol money, school fees, everything up in a puff of smoke. As many Brits will testify, there’s little to no support for the self employed from the State. Same applies here.

Some of the city’s best loved hotels, I was told, had finishing hiring and training their first full team of staff members in nearly two years on Monday, only to send them all home again three days later as cancellations poured in. Restaurants and taxi drivers across the city welcomed guests with open arms, begging them to come back, to stay.

At this point, there had been 59 cases of the new variant detected worldwide, most in South Africa. Nationwide, there had been 1,200 new Covid cases – a steep increase in just a handful of days. This compared to over 46,000 new cases in the UK at the end of last week.

It felt bitterly unfair. Southern Africa was, locals felt, being punished for its transparency.

Despite hysteria, hours on the phone, endless emails – we heard nothing from the government or British Airways, who we had booked our original flight home with. Emergency phone numbers rang out, emails and social media messages left unread or ignored.

The couple are now reliant on the British government to give us a medical exception to hotel quarantine, (Lizzie Edmonds)

British Airways, I would imagine, were trying to do right by their stranded customers in a difficult – and totally unpredicted – situation that was sprung upon the company with no warning. But a lack of contact from any party involved in getting us home in those early stages only added to the feeling of abandonment and hopelessness.

Friday night was when our £5,000 emergency Air France flights were due to depart at 12.30am – getting us to London a few hours before the deadline. During the day, we spent hundreds of pounds getting rapid PCR tests, documents printed, Day 2 and Day 8 tests ordered for when we landed.

Throughout the day, phone notifications toyed with our nerves – Urseula Von Der Leyen reccomending the EU close its borders, more cases popping up all over the continent. But our flight was still scheduled. We were going home.

Like a scene from a film, we set off from town to the airport in one of the worst lightning and thunder storms the city had seen in decades. Streams of water poured from the skies, which were lit up with violent flashes of light and guteral clashes of thunder. It was an omen.

As we pulled up to the airport drop off, the doors were closed and blocked by security guards in high-viz jackets. Hundreds of masked passengers grasping wheely cases pushed together to hear what a lady with a clip board had to say: “All flights cancelled, you have to leave. The airport is closed.”

Two American tourists stood sobbing, scrolling on their phones in the hope of finding new flights, desperate for a way to get home. Nowhere to stay, no ride to somewhere safe. Left standing in the rain with no help or assistance.

We drove back to town in shocked silence, admitting defeat. There was nothing else we could do until morning.

It took until Saturday at 5pm for BA to contact us, offering us rescue flights. 20 hours is a long time when you are 8,000 miles from home with a baby growing inside you.

The only support we got from the government was a text telling us a PCR test would be delivered to our house in the UK – even though we were stuck on the otherside of the world.

As more information began to trickle through, and we accepted we’d have to fork out over £3,000 to stay in a Heathrow Airport for at least ten days, we accepted an extension to the holiday.

I would be home not too far in to my 32nd week of pregnancy (you can fly until 36 weeks if carrying one baby, but good luck getting insurance past 32 weeks.) We’d be careful but enjoy ourselves. My husband drank glasses of delicious, cheap wine while I looked on enviously. We’d get home eventually.

On Saturday night, I was awoken by something – someone – howling outside my bedroom window. I’d gone home a few hours before, while Steve enjoyed beers with friends. I opened the door to him covered in blood. Blood pouring from his left hand, little finger severed. Blood pouring from his right elbow. Blood easing across his chest.

“Don’t be cross,” he said.

He’s been stabbed three times with a broken beer bottle by a group of five, maybe six men on the street. Medics removed a three inch piece of glass from his hand and repaired a severed nerve. His wounds on his chest and arm would have killed him, had they been in fractionally different locations.

Of course, street violence can occur anywhere. He was out late and in the wrong place at the wrong time. But now we find ourselves in one hell of a situation.

We are now reliant on the British government to give us a medical exception to hotel quarantine, seeing as Steve has quite literally been sewn back together again. He will need constant medical attention when we land home.

Furthermore, my body has processed so much adreneline and stress in the past 48 hours I probably need a check up as well. Half my family are expecting the baby to be born with grey hair, the other say it will be an adreneline junkie from the moment it opens its lungs.

So, we have five days until we fly to reason with the unreasonable – the British government – and to quarantine in our house alone so Steve can recover. Wish us luck.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Adele sparks fears her Las Vegas residency will never happen after stage set is removed and major artist fills her slot

ADELE fans are growing increasingly worried the singer will never perform her Las Vegas residency after tearfully cancelling her first gig with just hours to spare. The Brit superstar's Weekends ... Read more »

US Fed is far behind the curve on controlling inflation

© Provided by The Financial Express Only twice before in modern history, in early 1975 and again in mid-1980, did the Fed allow the real funds rate to plunge to ... Read more »

The Emotional On-Set Moment That Bonded The Spider-Man: No Way Home Cast

Marvel Entertainment/YouTube Many fans still don’t seem to be over “Spider-Man: No Way Home” following its release. It is, after all, the only film so far to feature all three actors who have ... Read more »

Parti lain ‘intai' P Pinang kerana DAP hilang sokongan, kata penganalisis

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today UEC yang tidak diiktiraf dan rasa kurang senang terhadap Dr Mahathir Mohamad adalah dua sebab mengapa pengundi Cina di Pulau Pinang mungkin menolak DAP, ... Read more »

Australia news live update: nation records at least 59 Covid deaths; national cabinet to discuss if ‘fully vaccinated' means three doses

LIVE – Updated at 01:18 Follow all the day’s news live.   01:18 Today we have recorded 11,600 new COVID-19 cases. Sadly, we have reported 15 deaths in the past ... Read more »

Waxwork model of the Queen is left BALD under her hat

It doesn’t show the Queen at her elegant best – to put it baldly. German wax museum Panoptikum yesterday revealed that – because of the cost of hair – its ... Read more »

Christian Pulisic the latest player to admit to Chelsea troubles

Christian Pulisic has become the latest player to open up on his struggles at Chelsea after a tough season. The £58m winger has struggled to nail down a regular starting ... Read more »

Man pictured wearing 'Camp Auschwitz' sweatshirt during Capitol riot pleads guilty to one misdemeanor charge

© ITN/Department of Justice Man pictured wearing ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweatshirt during Capitol riot pleads guilty to one misdemeanor charge A man photographed wearing an antisemitic sweatshirt during the Capitol riot ... Read more »

Kerala minister hoists national flag upside down, triggers row

© Provided by The Indian Express Kerala Minister Ahamed Devarkovil triggered a row on Wednesday after he hoisted the national flag upside down in Kasaragod on the occasion of Republic ... Read more »

Biden order makes sexual harassment in US military a crime

© Nicholas Kamm An executive order signed by US President Joe Biden that makes sexual harassment a crime in the military includes provisions on domestic violence and the wrongful broadcast ... Read more »

13 science-backed tips to stay focused and avoid distractions

© BartekSzewczyk/Getty Images 13 science-backed tips to stay focused and avoid distractions To improve focus and productivity, build healthy habits like getting enough sleep and exercise. Multitasking and social media ... Read more »

PM Narendra Modi to host first India-Central Asia Summit today

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to host the first India-Central Asia Summit on Thursday (January 27, 2022) in a virtual format. During ... Read more »

Delhi L-G to chair DDMA meet as active Covid caseload dips. What's on agenda?

© Provided by Hindustan Times A deserted view of Lajpat Nagar market as New Delhi observes weekend curfew. (ANI) The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) will meet today to discuss ... Read more »

Hey, Samsung, the Galaxy S22 better have these upgrades

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 blew us away, with its performance and specs placing it firmly among 2021’s best phones. Now, a year later, the new Galaxy S22 lineup is likely on the horizon with an ... Read more »

Judge orders Oath Keepers leader to remain in jail pending trial

Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers leader accused of seditious conspiracy to overthrow the Biden presidency, will remain in jail as he awaits trial, a judge ruled on Wednesday. © Susan ... Read more »

Samsung Unpacked 2022: Here's What We're Dying to See

Samsung is readying its first major event of the year, Samsung Unpacked 2022, which begins Wednesday, February 9. Following the same format as its last few events, it’s going to ... Read more »

Another Navy officer pleads guilty in wide-spanning scandal

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S. Navy commander admitted in federal court to sending a Malaysian defense contractor classified ship schedules for the Navy’s 7th Fleet in exchange for extravagant ... Read more »

How many flowers are in Minecraft, and what they can do?

Minecraft flowers are just as functional as they are decorative, and we can help you learn all about them. Flowers occupy a strange space in Minecraft. They’re relatively easy to ... Read more »

Fresh hope for Europe travel after Australia added to ‘danger zone' list

Australians itching for a European summer holiday have been given fresh hope, with the region’s ambassador assuring free travel will resume when infection rates fall. Last week, the European Council ... Read more »

CSGO casters, talent consider ties with ESL after Saudi buyout

In the wake of ESL’s purchase by a Saudi-controlled gaming company, several well-known Counter-Strike: Global Offensive casters and talent are speaking out. And some claim to now be done with ... Read more »

Are the Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel servers down? How to check

© Provided by GamePur Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is a new title from Konami that allows duelists to take on players from around the world, and the title features a litany ... Read more »

Longgar SOP kepada rakyat sebelum beri kepada pelancong asing

© Provided by Sinar Harian SHAH ALAM – Pakar kesihatan awam menyarankan kerajaan supaya memastikan kelonggaran prosedur operasi standard (SOP) telah dilaksanakan sepenuhnya di dalam negara sebelum memberikan kemudahan tersebut ... Read more »

Atienza to Marcos on abortion stance: You're position is so distorted

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza on Feb. 18, 2020. Photo: Joviland Rita Vice presidential aspirant Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza on Wednesday criticized former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. after the ... Read more »

'Jeopardy!' champ Amy Schneider opens a new chapter for show

The Associated PressThis image released by Sony Pictures Television shows contestant Amy Schneider on the set of “Jeopardy!” After 40 games, Schneider’s winning streak has ended. (Casey Durkin/Sony Pictures Television ... Read more »

Günthardt über Nadal-Zeitspiel: So werden die Stars bevorteilt

© Bereitgestellt von Blick So werden die Stars bevorteilt Denis Shapovalov ist stinksauer. Gerade hat er in fünf Sätzen das Viertelfinale bei den Australian Open gegen Rafael Nadal verloren. Diese ... Read more »

Nicht nur der FCB profitiert: Das sind die Zahlen zum Cabral-Deal

Beim FCB klingelt nach dem Millionen-Deal um Arthur Cabral die Kasse. Freuen darf sich auch Ex-Klub Palmeiras. © Bereitgestellt von Blick Das sind die Zahlen zum Cabral-Deal Patrick Rahmen hatte ... Read more »

‘Melrose Place' actor Morgan Stevens dead at 70

Morgan Stevens passed away on Wednesday after police conducted a wellness check at his home. NBCUniversal via Getty Images Actor Morgan Stevens, who played Nick Diamond on the show “Melrose ... Read more »

Universal credit claimants face tough sanctions in UK job crackdown

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images Unemployed workers will be forced to take up a job in any sector or face swift financial sanctions under a crackdown ... Read more »

'Natural' supplements athletes take can be harmful, cardiologists warn

Athletes taking ‘natural’ supplements to give them a competitive edge were today warned abusing them could be harmful. The European Society of Cardiology said an increasing number of sportspeople are using ... Read more »

Mother screamed ‘my child, my child' after five-year-old son fatally attacked in Coventry, reports say

© PA The five-year-old boy was killed just days before his sixth birthday in a sudden attack. – PA A mother ran into a shop crying “my child, my child” ... Read more »

Private rents in Britain rise at fastest rate on record

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Geoffrey Swaine/Rex/Shutterstock Private rents in Britain are rising at their fastest rate on record, piling more pressure on households feeling the strain of the ... Read more »

Better security expected at Sibu market with installation of 93 CCTV cameras

© Provided by The Star Online (From fourth left) Tiang, Chieng and Tan turning on a switch to light up the lanterns at Sibu Central Market. TOUTED as the largest ... Read more »

Joe Schoen lays out clear philosophy as Giants GM: ‘Find solutions'

Cut through all the words and the messaging and the specifics of what Joe Schoen intends to change and instill in the Giants and it comes down to this: “We ... Read more »

Rihanna flashes her legs in a blue and orange shirt as she delivers dinner to boyfriend ASAP Rocky at recording studio

RIHANNA puts the ooh into Deliveroo while taking a take-away to her boyfriend. She legged it to a New York studio wearing a sports shirt and £1,250 Prada heels. Rihanna ... Read more »

Improving volume visibility boosts Concor

ET Intelligence Group: Improving volume visibility should brighten the prospects of earnings growth at Container Corp of India (CONCOR), potentially boosting its stock that has outperformed the Sensex by 27% ... Read more »

Most brokerages maintain a bullish stance on Maruti

Mumbai: Most brokerages have maintained a bullish view on Maruti Suzuki India and raised target prices as the carmaker reported a strong December quarter result due to lower-than-expected raw material ... Read more »

Fed signals rates could rise 'soon'

Washington: The Federal Reserve on Wednesday signaled it is likely to raise U.S. interest rates in March and reaffirmed plans to end its bond purchases that month before launching a ... Read more »

Südkorea: Nordkorea feuert Geschoss Richtung Meer ab

© Keystone/KCNA/- Nordkorea hat nach Angaben des südkoreanischen Militärs mindestens ein zunächst nicht identifiziertes Geschoss in Richtung Meer abgefeuert. Das Geschoss sei in Richtung Osten geflogen, teilte Südkoreas Generalstab am ... Read more »

Appointment of Luther Lebelo as Public Protector's chief of staff was totally above board

The Public Protector’s office has taken exception to an analysis by Stephen Grootes of the appointment of Luther Lebelo to that office. © Copyright (c) Daily Maverick , All Rights ... Read more »

Oath Keepers leader ordered jailed until trial on January 6 charges

Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right militia group known as the Oath Keepers, will be jailed pending trial in Washington, D.C., a Texas magistrate judge ruled Wednesday.  ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic