Edmonton family stranded in Morocco in wake of COVID-19 surge

An overseas trip has turned into a big headache for an Edmonton family, with their flight home from Morocco suddenly suspended after a spike of COVID-19 cases in that country.

Samira Hamana left Edmonton to go to Morocco with her three kids, ages 6 ,9 and 13, on July 16. She has been following government updates closely and said if she knew it was a possibility flights would be restricted from Morocco, she would have never boarded a plane in the first place.

“If that was the case, if the borders were closed, if I had any idea, I would not have traveled until everything is clear,” Hamana said.

Hamana and her oldest child are fully vaccinated, and on Aug. 29 the family received negative COVID-19 tests to travel home on Aug. 30th, when the Canadian government restricted all direct commercial flights to Canada until Sept. 29.

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The move comes after an increase in positive COVID-19 test results from travelers coming back from Morocco over the past month. Hamana wishes there had been more notice so they could have returned home earlier.

“It was such a disappointing moment.”

Hamana said the family went on the trip to visit aging grandparents, but everyone is ready to return home to Edmonton. Especially the kids, who are looking forward to going back to school.

“My kids are heartbroken, and they also start crying because for one year and a half, they have to do online school, and they didn’t see their friends.”

A petition has been created by Moroccans Canada MDC to try to change the federal government’s mind. Hamana also worries about other people who came to Morocco from Canada and believed they would be able to return home.

“Some of them will lose their jobs, some them have university, and some of them have treatment.”

There is one option to get home, but it’s pricey.

Since direct flights are suspended, the family could fly to somewhere like Portugal and then home to Canada, but it could cost more than $10,000.

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“We feel like we are abandoned by your own government, like your own country. I know that Canadian government is trying to protect all Canadians and I understand that. however we have to look at different solutions,” Hamana said.

Read more: ‘I’m not afraid of COVID’: Why some Canadians choose to travel abroad amid a pandemic

According to the World Health Organization, the week of Aug. 23 there were more than 43,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in Morocco. In the same time in Canada there were more than 20,000.

On the Government of Canada’s website it says Canada has some of the strictest travel and border measures in the world. Canada continues to closely monitor the situation and will be working closely with the Government of Morocco and aviation operators to ensure appropriate procedures are put in place to enable a safe resumption of direct flights as soon as conditions permit.

Right now, the plan is to resume flights on Sept. 29, but there is a chance that could be extended.

Hamana said she has reached out to her local MP, the Canadian embassy and the prime minister’s office.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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