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Canadians stranded in South Africa by COVID-19 could pay $5K for trip home: government

Shannon Battersby and Paul Hoy, Canadians stranded in South Africa by travel bans designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, were told by the Canadian government that a flight home could cost $5000.

Battersby, from Langham, Sask., went to South Africa to visit her partner’s family. Hoy, from Bowmanville, Ont, went for a modelling contract.

Both scrambled to rebook their flights when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to return home when the novel coronavirus pandemic worsened, but couldn’t find a way out.

“Once we heard Trudeau was telling Canadians to come home, then started the nightmare,” Battersby said, via a Skype call from Standerton, South Africa.

Battersby and her partner Tim were originally scheduled to return to Canada at the end of March. She tried to find earlier flights after Trudeau’s announcement and finally found one that left a few days earlier.

Hoy was looking, too, and told Global News flights cost more than $2,500.

They both said the messages they received from the airlines were confusing — that is, when they received messages.

“I booked through Lufthansa,” Battersby said, “so I tried emailing them.”

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“There was no response. At all.”

Both showed tickets and emails to Global News showing flights had been suddenly cancelled. In Hoy’s case, he only found out his itinerary had been changed after a flight had left.

Eventually they both found flights — Battersby and her partner on the morning of March 27 and Hoy on March 28th. But the South African government imposed a 21-day lockdown, preventing all flights in or out of the country at midnight on the 26th.

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