Seven Britons have been detained in hospital isolation rooms in India and stopped from returning to the UK after six members tested positive for COVID-19.
Janet Leigh, 83, from Norfolk, Nairn Lawson, 76, from Somerset, Elizabeth Lawson, 75, from North Somerset, Steven Hancock, 61, from Suffolk, Ann Williams, 61, from Suffolk and Jane Jackson, 63, from Kettering, have been living in the hospital in Kerala since last week.
The group had been part of a 19-people tour across the southern coast of the country when just six days into the holiday one person fell ill with flu-like symptoms and was tested for the virus.
Six have since tested positive for the virus while the seventh is the partner of a person who tested positive.
Among the seven British nationals who are being kept in Kerala, India, by the authorities is Janet Leigh (right)
Elizabeth and Nairn Lawson (pictured) are among the group of British citizens who are being kept in Kerala
One member of the group is now symptomatic and is using a ventilator as he battles pneumonia while the others do not yet show any symptoms of the virus.
However the nationals are now pleading with the Foreign Office to be brought back home, with the daughter of one of the members of the group stating the conditions that her father was made to live in was ‘unhygienic and unsanitary’.
Steven Hancocks’s daughter Evie Hancock, 31, from Chigwell, Essex, said the group were scheduled to fly back home on March 15 when they were removed from their flight.
She said: ‘They were on a structured trip around Kerala, southern India, it included a tour of the tea plantations, some time with the elephants. They were in a group of 19 on the trip.’
‘Six days into the holiday, one person fell ill with flu-like symptoms. He was tested and was confirmed negative.
‘The group were then told to fly home because everything was closing down and coronavirus was stepping up. They all boarded a flight on Sunday March 15. They were on the tarmac for 30 minutes before they were removed from the flight.
Steve Hancock and Ann Willams (pictured) had been on the group tour through India when just six days in one person fell ill with flu-like symptoms
Jane Jackson 63, from Kettering, is among the seven British national who are being detained in a hospital in Kerala
‘They were told that the results that were given were incorrect and that he was actually positive and then he and his wife were taken off to hospital. We haven’t heard anything about them.
‘The rest of the group went to a hotel called Lotus 8 near the airport and were held there on one floor from the Sunday to the Friday just gone.
‘They were swabbed on the Wednesday, and the results came back showing five out of the 17 were positive.
‘At the moment they are still in their hospital rooms, and haven’t been allowed to leave. I think they asked to remain together because I don’t think they would cope by themselves.
The daughter of Steven Hancocks, Evie Hancock, 31, from Chigwell, Essex, described the conditions the group were living in (pictured)
Ms Hancock, who is demanding action from the Foreign Office, said the group’s living conditions were ‘unhygienic and unsanitary’. Pictured: The living conditions the group claim they are staying in
The worried daughter went on to say that despite the conditions the group were not allowed to leave. Pictured: The rooms that group claim they are staying in
‘When they tested positive on Friday, they were taken at speed to the Kala-Messary Government Medical College.’
She claimed that: ‘It is unhygienic and unsanitary, and they are taking blood from them in the room because they’re not allowed to leave.’
The group’s tour operator, Mercury Holidays, has since said they have arranged secure and comfortable accommodation for the group to move to and are trying ‘everything in their power’ to persuade the Indian authorities to transfer the tourists.
Ms Hancock continued: ‘Mercury holidays have confirmed they have paid for them to move to a private hospital.
‘The minister hasn’t confirmed yet whether they can be moved to the private hospital, that’s the brick wall they are facing and they are going into the third night in that accommodation.
‘I think they are all struggling mentally but they are trying to keep each other spirits up. They are not being fed properly and they are not in an environment that is remotely okay to leave an animal in let alone a human.
‘We don’t have anyone on the ground liaising for us, we don’t know how many negative results we have to get back before they can be moved out of isolation.
‘My dad has asthma which is not ideal and he has previously been prone to pneumonia so he is definitely at a high risk.’
Ms Hancock said she now needed the Foreign Office to ‘act immediately’ and find a way to return the group back home.
She added: ‘We need to act immediately in the situation and understand that this is a vulnerable group of elderly British nationals who need to be considered as a group.
‘We need to try and find a way to work together to get them moved to a suitable facility as soon as possible before we potentially run into further health complications which could be irreversible.
‘This needs the attention of the deputy High Commissioner or anyone else who is able to get this group moved. Mercury holidays are happy to front the cost for this so what do we need to do to help them move.’
The group’s worried family members in the UK are now appealing for help from local MPs.
A Foreign & Commonwealth Office spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Our staff are supporting a group of British people currently undergoing medical treatment in India and are in touch with the local health authorities.’
A spokesman for Mercury Holidays said: ‘Our first and only priority is to get our customers into safe, secure and comfortable accommodation where they can receive the highest quality of care. We are doing everything that we can to make this happen and we will pay for all those in Kerala to have private medical care.
‘We are continually speaking to the Foreign Office and have been for a number of days. We urge them to do everything in their power to persuade the Indian authorities to transfer our customers so they can get the critical care they need.’