IN THE midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a woman from Reading has found herself and her friends stranded in the Philippines.

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Camilla Hay, 23, was travelling with a group of friends across South East Asia when they became caught up in the chaos caused by the pandemic.

Currently, they are stuck on the island Siargao, 760 miles from Manila, and staying in a town called General Luna. The island is under lockdown, with no boats leaving or arriving - meaning the group have no prospect of getting off and back to Manila.

Camilla said: "We've been in the Philippines for nearly four weeks now and we've been on the island of Siargao for nearly three of those weeks.

"A lot of people have made comments saying that we shouldn’t have gone in the first place - but I didn’t come from home, I left home in December and I have done Australia and New Zealand before coming here.

"Before I left New Zealand there were only three confirmed cases there.

"For my first week in the Philippines we were able to carry on completely normal with the odd temperature check before taking public transport."

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The island then went into lockdown, with no commercial flights or boats allowed to arrive or depart.

"There are also limited international flights at unaffordable prices if we were able to get to Manila, which we can’t due to the lockdown on the island," she added.

The group struggled to get in touch with the British embassy, and have received a couple of emails just to confirm that the groups' details are correct.

"For the most part they just tell us to keep an eye on their social media pages," said Camilla.

"A couple of days ago they tweeted with a suggestion flight for us to get, it would be leaving on April 4 from Manila and would cost about £1300 - a cost that I personally would not be able to cover.

"This flight was being put on by Philippines Airlines.

"We would not have been able to even get to Manila to get the flight, despite the cost.

"We have since found out that this flight was cancelled after all."

Despite the situation, Camilla said her and her friends are 'extremely lucky' compared to some.

She said: "Before the situation got this severe we were already staying in a property run by a lovely Filipino team who are making us feel very safe.

"They understand our situation and are willing to let us stay indefinitely.

"Unfortunately however five of us are now paying the price of eight people staying, as three people managed to leave before it got to this stage.

"Because of this it is becoming less and less affordable for us to be here.

"We are restricted to the place in which we are staying, one of the boys has been granted a pass which means he is able to drive into town, for groceries only."

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Although others have found themselves in the same situation, the group believe other countries are handling stranded tourists much better.

Camilla said: "We have however been added to WhatsApp groups for stranded tourists in the Philippines, on which other Brits and Europeans have been discussing their predicaments.

"It is clear to see that other Europeans are receiving much more assistance from their embassies than we are, with some even having been provided free flights all the way home!

"We have also read about some other tourists who have managed to get sweeper flights off their island to Manila only to find that all of the flights have been cancelled, they have then had to sleep in the airport."