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Karyn Stewart-Phillip

Three T&T nationals who were on the cruise ship Costa Favolosa are now said to be stranded in Guadeloupe after they were not allowed to come home earlier this week with a group of 68 of their compatriots, who are currently going through the COVID-19 quarantine process in Balandra.

Tobagonian Karyn Stewart-Phillip, Michelle Sergeant and Michelle Charles, both of Trinidad, were said to be in high spirits despite their situation yesterday. They are being taken care of by the cruise line but they are yearning for the opportunity to return home.

News coming out of Guadeloupe revealed that the island crossed the epidemic threshold after having a total of 45 positive cases up to yesterday. The Costa Favolosa was forced to anchor off Guadeloupe after being denied entry to Martinique after passengers on board tested positive for COVID-19, and eventually was allowed entry to Guadeloupe so that passengers could return to their home countries.

Two of the Trinis who were on board the cruise and left Guadeloupe on Tuesday, before the group of 68 on Wednesday, also tested positive for the virus on their way home and were immediately quarantined at the designated hospitals at either the Caura Hospital or the Couva Hospital.

Speaking with Guardian Media yesterday, Thomas Phillip, the husband of Stewart-Phillip, a registered nurse with over 10 years experience, explained that the trio will soon be transferred from Guadeloupe to Argentina.

“My wife is in Guadeloupe, soon to be moved to Argentina, she and two other persons who are Trinidad and Tobago citizens. Their cruise ended on Tuesday of this week and a group of 68 persons from Trinidad were taken back to Trinidad and they were left stranded. They are stranded presently in Guadeloupe,” Phillip said.

“The cruise liner has put them up in a hotel, the La Creole Hotel and Beach Spa. They were told last night that they would be moved to Argentina in Buenos Aires at the expense of the cruise line. While they are in Argentina they will be given further information as to when they will be getting a flight back to Trinidad.”

Asked why his wife and the other two nationals were not allowed to come back as part of the group of 68, Phillip said the 68 people who returned home earlier this week were part of an organised cruise tour group and were therefore given priority as a group. In fact, Guardian Media understands that other passengers who were on the cruise and also stranded, including Americans citizens, complained of feeling discriminated against when they tried to negotiate their way onto the same flight only to be told they could not be accommodated.

“The plane was a chartered flight and when it was loaded with the 68 persons, they (wife and other two Trinis) were told that there was no space there to accommodate them and because of the border restrictions in various Caribbean islands, the Dominican Republic had refused their flight that would have had to pass through the Dominican Republic before getting to Trinidad and because the borders there is closed,” Phillip said.

“They remained in Guadeloupe and up to today, there has been no flight arrangements from Guadeloupe to Trinidad. The option was put forward to them to go to Argentina and maybe a flight would be arranged from there to come to Trinidad.” Phillip said the cruise liner has been very forthcoming with information and attempts are being made to have them returned home, but the global situation with the spread of the virus was making it difficult.

Phillip said he had attempted to contact Minister of National Security Stuart Young to apprise him of the situation but did not get on to him. Guardian Media also understands that senior police officers from Tobago have also passed the information on the ministry.