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British couple who left girl, 2, with nanny for 9 day holiday get caught in coronavirus lockdown  

A British lawyer and his wife have been separated from their two-year-old daughter for seven weeks after getting caught up in coronavirus lockdown while on holiday in South Africa.

Ex-pat Mark Hill and his Italian wife Chiara Maioni, who live in Dubai, left toddler Skye in the care of their trusted nanny, housemaid and their extended family while they jetted to Cape Town for a romantic nine-day break on March 11.

The following day the WHO declared coronavirus to be a global pandemic with 125,000 cases had been reported across 118 countries worldwide.

The couple found themselves stranded in South Africa as the country went into lockdown and had to wait six weeks before being repatriated back to Dubai on an emergency humanitarian flight last week.

Ex-pat Mark Hill and his Italian wife Chiara Maioni, who live in Dubai, left toddler Skye in the care of their trusted nanny, housemaid and their extended family while they jetted to Cape Town for a romantic nine-day break on March 11

The following day the WHO declared coronavirus to be a global pandemic because 125,000 cases had been reported across 118 countries worldwide. Lockdown meant the couple were left stranded in South Africa and had to wait six weeks before being repatriated back to Dubai

The following day the WHO declared coronavirus to be a global pandemic because 125,000 cases had been reported across 118 countries worldwide. Lockdown meant the couple were left stranded in South Africa and had to wait six weeks before being repatriated back to Dubai

Now the parents must stay under quarantine for 9 more days despite displaying no systems of the killer disease. Mr Hill, 52, who is originally from Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, told MailOnline: 'It has been horrendous, a complete nightmare'

Now the parents must stay under quarantine for 9 more days despite displaying no systems of the killer disease. Mr Hill, 52, who is originally from Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, told MailOnline: ‘It has been horrendous, a complete nightmare’

Now the parents must endure further separation from Skye as they stay under quarantine for 9 more days despite displaying no systems of the killer disease.

Mr Hill, 52, who is originally from Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, told MailOnline: ‘It has been horrendous, a complete nightmare.

‘The world changed overnight and we found ourselves in the complete unknown. We didn’t have a clue how long the lockdown would last and how to get home.

‘We were stranded in a foreign country that we did not know. We watched as airports around the world closed and airlines stopped flying.

‘It’s been a very stressful time. I have never been separated from the kids for more than two days and Chiara has never been away from the baby.’ 

Chiara, 44, added: ‘This is the first time we have left home without Skye and I feel terribly guilty about this.’

The couple had been in Cape Town for less than 48 hours when South Africa went into lockdown – preventing any means of their escape.

There had been no travel restrictions in either country when they left and the situation rapidly escalated, causing UAE to close its borders. 

They changed their travel plans and tried to book flights back to Dubai on March 15 but found all tickets were sold out.

The couple finally managed to buy tickets for March 19.

But they were prevented from boarding the plane because the UAE had introduced a complete travel ban on all residents overseas from entering the country over fears they could spread the virus.

Chiara, 44, (pictured at Skye's 2nd birthday) said: 'This is the first time we have left home without Skye and I feel terribly guilty about this.' The couple had been in Cape Town for less than 48 hours when South Africa went into lockdown – preventing any means of escape

Chiara, 44, (pictured at Skye’s 2nd birthday) said: ‘This is the first time we have left home without Skye and I feel terribly guilty about this.’ The couple had been in Cape Town for less than 48 hours when South Africa went into lockdown – preventing any means of escape

There had been no travel restrictions in either country when they left and the situation rapidly escalated, causing the borders in Dubai to close. They changed their travel plans and tried to book flights back to Dubai on March 15 but found all tickets were sold out

There had been no travel restrictions in either country when they left and the situation rapidly escalated, causing the borders in Dubai to close. They changed their travel plans and tried to book flights back to Dubai on March 15 but found all tickets were sold out

They were prevented from boarding the plane because the UAE had introduced a complete travel ban on all residents overseas from entering the country over fears they could spread the virus

They were prevented from boarding the plane because the UAE had introduced a complete travel ban on all residents overseas from entering the country over fears they could spread the virus

Some 29,000 UAE residents found themselves stranded abroad after the government introduced the lockdown overnight.

While the couple frantically looked for a way out of South Africa, they introduced a video-call routine to stay in touch with little Skye.

Mr Hill said: ‘We started to make a routine. We would call in the morning and again before her afternoon nap and then we would read her a story and sing to her in the evening.

‘But when your two-year-old daughter reaches up to the screen because she wants to touch you, it’s heart-breaking.’

He added: ‘My wife is Italian and does not have the stiff upper lip thing. She has had a torrid emotional time.’

Close friends did their best to help keep Skye’s spirits up, including Mark’s ex-wife Lara and their two daughters Angel and Jade.

Ms Maioni said: ‘I couldn’t bring myself to video call my daughter until a few days after [we arrived in South Africa].

‘Thank God we have friends who are trying to help the best they can, including my husband’s ex-wife and his two daughters who go over and spend some time with my baby.’

But little Skye’s isolation was exacerbated when Dubai introduced own ‘stay-home’ rule meant family and friends could not visit.’ 

While the couple frantically looked for a way out of South Africa, they introduced a video-call routine to stay in touch with little Skye

While the couple frantically looked for a way out of South Africa, they introduced a video-call routine to stay in touch with little Skye

Mr Hill said: 'We started to make a routine. We would call in the morning and again before her afternoon nap and then we would read her a story and sing to her in the evening.' Pictured at Skye's second birthday with his daughter Angel, 13, and Jade, 11

Mr Hill said: ‘We started to make a routine. We would call in the morning and again before her afternoon nap and then we would read her a story and sing to her in the evening.’ Pictured at Skye’s second birthday with his daughter Angel, 13, and Jade, 11

Ms Maioni added: ‘I cannot thank my nanny and housemaid enough for being such wonderful people and stepping up their efforts to keep my child well.’

Finally, after hours of phone calls to Italian and UAE diplomats the couple were allowed on to German-government led repatriation flight for Europeans stuck in South Africa from Cape Town to Frankfurt on April 21.

The British Foreign Office was not involved.

Mr Hill and Ms Maioni, who have lived in UAE for 20 years, were then able to board a government repatriation flight to Dubai, arriving exhausted in the early hours of April 23, after two days of travelling.

They were tested for Covid-19 at the airport and have undergone further testing in quarantine. Both remain clear of the virus.

‘The effort of the UAE government to get us home has been astonishing,’ explained Mark, a media and entertainment lawyer whose clients include footballer Lionel Messi and socialite Paris Hilton.

‘We could not be more grateful to UAE. This is where we live, this is our home.

‘We had to travel through three closed airports – Cape Town, Frankfurt and Dubai.

‘Until we were reached Dubai we were still not sure we would make it, but now we are home.

Finally, after hours of phone calls to Italian and UAE diplomats the couple were allowed on to German-government led repatriation flight for Europeans stuck in South Africa from Cape Town to Frankfurt on April 21. They have 9 more days in quarantine

Finally, after hours of phone calls to Italian and UAE diplomats the couple were allowed on to German-government led repatriation flight for Europeans stuck in South Africa from Cape Town to Frankfurt on April 21. They have 9 more days in quarantine

‘We are in quarantine for another 9 days but we feel a lot better now we are in the country. In fact we are about one mile from our home.’

Chiara said: ‘Our children are very special for us. It was really difficult to be separated from them.

‘This is a miracle for us to be home.’

Mark added: ‘When we finally get to see Skye there will be lots of group hugs with the kids and my wife.’

 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk