A Maltese couple who are stuck in Switzerland because of coronavirus, say they will have to sleep at the airport until they can find a way home. 

Fitzpatrick Schembri, 28, and his girlfriend Amy Galea, 22, travelled to Zurich on March 6. They were due to fly back on Friday but are now stranded because all flights from the country have been halted until further notice.

Malta, which so far has nine recorded coronavirus cases, has halted all travel between Malta and five countries: Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Spain in an attempt to contain the spread of infections. 

“We immediately contacted the official helpline and spoke to someone dealing with the Maltese cases in Switzerland. They took our names but said that nothing has been organised yet. We were also told to watch Prime Minister Robert Abela's press conference on Thursday for more information."

The couple – who are from Mosta and Kirkop – are not the only people trying to get back to Malta. After uploading a Facebook post, Schembri said he was contacted by another couple who were in the same boat. They in turn heard of another group of eight people who are also stranded. 

“We swapped phone numbers and we are trying to share any information we have,” Schembri added.

“We are calling the helpline daily, but so far we have been told to try and find connecting flights back through a country that is not on the no-fly list.”

Fitzpatrick, who is an accounts clerk and his girlfriend Amy, who is a nurse, say they simply cannot afford to pay for new flights or stay in a hotel any longer.

“We had budgeted to be here for a week and we have already spent €700 on accommodation. Booking new flights home would be another €500, so we feel we have no choice but to just go to the airport and wait to hear from someone." 

Schembri said although he booked insurance for his trip, it does not cover coronavirus.

He said he checked with the authorities before leaving last week and was advised that it was safe to travel. 

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