A Russian mother and her 9 year-old son have spent the past three nights sleeping on the floor of the Kuala Lumpur airport after Malaysia sealed borders and cancelled flights in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Stranded tourists, Valerie Azure and her son Kyri turned away from Thailand due to new health requirements amid the(COVID-19) epidemic. Azure, 31, said more than a dozen people were stranded with her in the international airport in Kuala Lumpur. She is among hundreds marooned across the globe, according to media reports.
Azure said she and her son boarded an AirAsia flight for Thailand on Monday. However they were sent back after officials asked for blood tests proving they were free of the virus.
Malaysia has banned foreigners from entering since March 18.
“They said ‘you’re going to have to stay here’. We thought maybe they are not being serious, in the beginning,” Azure told Reuters.
Many trapped at Kuala Lumpur international Airport
Azure said people from Vietnam, Pakistan, and the Philippines were stranded alongside her. Airline staff bring them three meals a day of rice or noodles, and some water. They sleep on makeshift beds fashioned from cardboard and fabric.
Azure, who has lived in Thailand for the past seven years and runs a hostel on Koh Tao island, said she cannot afford to buy a $3,000 ticket to Russia, where she has no friends or family.
They were planning to stay until the end of Malaysia’s ban on foreign entries, on March 31, but it has since been extended until April 14. The Russian embassy told her they may be taken to an immigration detention centre, she said.
A spokeswoman said AirAsia had informed them Azure was working with her embassy to find a solution.
“Please be rest assured that AirAsia is taking good care of their welfare. AirAsia is also providing them sufficient meals during this difficult period,” she said.
The safety and well being of guests and staff was its top priority. AirAsia recommended any stranded travelers contact their embassies as the matter was “outside the airline’s control”.
Kuala Lumpur Airport security confiscates boys toy
“AirAsia remains fully compliant with all travel bans and restrictions in place resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to do everything possible to assist every guest affected by disruption during this unprecedented situation.”
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur international Airport Immigration director said they were looking into the case.
Azure said her son had been despondent since Kuala Lumpur Airport security officials confiscated his only toy, a ball.
“They said ‘This is an airport and not a playground’. It was his only entertainment… Now he’s just sitting there, I’m trying to keep him busy, to play games.” She worries about them falling sick in the Kuala Lumpur airport.
“I don’t know how safe it is… All we have left is just to hope and also pray.”