US Cancer Patient Stranded In UK Amid COVID Crisis

Story By: Alex Cope, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash

This American citizen who was undergoing cancer treatment in Dubai where she lives is stranded in the UK after her connecting flight from Heathrow was grounded and she now fears for her health.

Cassie Destino was left stranded in the UK as she made her way back from visiting her family in California to her home in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The 43-year-old flew out from California on 19th March and was travelling via Heathrow.

Newsflash/@cassie.destino

However, she says that just after she, her husband and their four-year-old twins checked in for the flight they were told that the UAE had brought in new travel restrictions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She was told the restrictions would prevent them from catching their second flight from Heathrow to Dubai, but she says “we had no choice but to take the flight to Heathrow, and we thought we would be able to figure out a way to return.”

After landing in London she says they immediately called the UAE embassy in Los Angeles but was told that they were temporarily grounded in the UK.

Newsflash/@cassie.destino

The cancer patient is now staying with family in Reading but is concerned about the immediate future.

She told Gulf News: “For the moment, I still have some of my medication with me, which will last me three weeks or so. But beyond that, I don’t have health insurance in the UK, and the medical system here is completely overwhelmed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“If I am not able to return home soon, I am concerned that the lack of follow-up treatment and testing will [cause my cancer to return] or affect my long-term health.”

The mother-of-two was diagnosed with cancer last summer and is reportedly receiving treatment from multiple hospitals in Dubai. It is currently unclear what kind of cancer she is suffering from.

She said she had been visiting family as she had not seen them in a “long while” and did not expect to be stranded from the “excellent specialists in Dubai”.

Destino said the family have booked her a ticket home for 5th April, but they “are no longer sure that we will be allowed on it”.

She added she hoped the authorities could resolve the situation so she can continue her treatment in Dubai.

The UAE has temporarily banned entry into the country, including resident visa holders, and suspended nearly all international flights.

Destino has filled out at a from the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s Towajudi but says she has not received a response.

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Alex Cope

I am a senior writer and editor of the Golders news agency specialising in sports news from around the world.