A family, including an 89-year-old woman living with diabetes and heart disease, is stranded in Pakistan due to the worldwide coronavirus crisis.

Shanaz Akhtar, 53, who lives in east Reading and works at a mental health hospital, was due to fly back to the UK on March 29 with her husband and elderly mother.

The family have now been stuck in the village of Jhelum for more than a week trying to find a way back home after their flight was cancelled, with airports were closed and people ordered to stay at home to stop the spread of Covid-19.

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Ms Akhtar said she is worried about the health of her mother and husband, who both have heart conditions, while her mother also is an insulin dependent diabetic and both are running low on medication.

She said: “My mother is quite elderly and frail and being here is putting her at risk.

“She is an insulant dependant diabetic and is on medication for heart disease. Her medication is running out. Being indoors isn’t good for her.

“My husband has medication that is running out as well. He is quite anxious to get back. With all the uncertainty, it has taken a toll on their health.”

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Ms Akhtar said they also have family waiting for them back in east Reading who are worried about them.

She said: “I have two children waiting at home. My mother lives with her sister and nephew who are waiting for her to come back.

“Our brothers and sisters are worried about us. They are panicking, with my mother being old.”

Around 4,000 people are expected to return to the UK from Pakistan on Pakistan International Airways flights this week prioritised for the elderly and vulnerable, according to Pakistan newspaper Dawn.

But Ms Akhtar said she was unable to get any of these tickets and was instead booked on a April 12 flight back to London, which cost them £1,000 each – their original return flights were £550 per person.

She said: “We travelled all the way down to Rawalpindi by taxi to book the tickets. It cost 5,000 rupees [about £53].

“PIA shut their doors and said they had helped as many people as they can. After creating a fuss, they agreed to see us.

“They pre-booked us tickets for April 12. That’s quite a distance away.

“Our finances are running low and our patience is running low.

“Being here and being isolated is really difficult. We don’t know what is going on. One minute they say the airport is open and the next minute it is not.”

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PIA currently only has flights to London with tickets available this week from Karachi, which is approximately 1,300km or 15 hours away from where the family are staying.

Reading East MP Matt Rodda said he is pressing the government to put up chartered flights for families stranded across the world.

He said: “I am very concerned for the welfare of the Akhtar family and doing what I can to help them.”

Ms Akhtar would normally now be working at a mental health hospital, helping the UK cope with its own coronavirus crisis, but is instead ‘stuck in Pakistan doing absolutely nothing’.

She said: “It is a proper lockdown. We cannot go out except to get food but there is only one shop in the village which just has basic stuff. The supplies are running short and the prices are hiked.

“Items that were 200 rupees [around £2.15] are now 600-800 rupees [around £6.50-£8.50].”

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She added: “There are a lot of people trying to make money on the back of all the misery that we are already suffering.

“[Last month] someone said they could get us tickets back to England on March 28 or 29 for £950 per person.

“I contemplated it and decided to wait for the next day. The next day we realised these planes were cancelled.

“It was nearly £3,000 for three of us that wouldn’t have got us anywhere because it was just a scam.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has set aside £75 million to charter flights from destinations where commercial routes have been severed due to the coronavirus pandemic, offering hope to some people who are stranded with no routes out.

If you are stranded abroad and need advice, please go to the government website for the latest information.