Coronavirus: British family in Vietnam say ‘holiday of a lifetime’ has been ruined

Four Britons have said their "holiday of a lifetime" has been ruined after they ended up stuck in a Vietnamese hospital amid coronavirus fears.

The two couples described "filthy" conditions as they prepared to spend a second night in a hospital near Sa Pa in the north of the country as authorities investigated Covid-19 cases linked to their flight.

Eric Holmes, 57, and his wife, 56-year-old Glenys, from Manchester, and Jackie Becker, 53, and her husband Alan, 56, from north-west London, arrived in Hanoi on March 2 on a flight from London.

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Jackie Becker, Alan Becker, Glenys Holmes and Eric Holmes who are in a hospital in Vietnam after testing negative for coronavirus.
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Less than a week into their holiday they were told to self-isolate in their hotel rooms, before being questioned by police about where they had been and who they had been in contact with, and then being taken to hospital.

All four have tested negative for the virus but said they fear they might not get to leave for another few days.

Mrs Becker, speaking from the hospital, said: "There's an awful lot of bureaucracy here which makes pretty much a lot of things impossible to do."

The three-week trip was due to be a "massive" holiday for her and her husband, the psychotherapist said, but it effectively ended as soon as they arrived in Sa Pa, once they were told to isolate.

"It's a bit of an ordeal to be here and we just want to get home now," she said.

Construction worker Mr Holmes, who described the trip as "our holiday of a lifetime", said the hospital was "worse than one of our prisons".

He said: "The initial rooms we were put in didn't even have a toilet, it was just a hole in the floor. The bed linen was filthy. The mattresses, I wouldn't allow my dog to sleep on."

They protested and were moved to "more acceptable" rooms but said they are still without hot water or clean towels.

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Mrs Becker said: "One of the things they keep telling you is you should be washing your hands in warm, soapy water - well, we can't even do that."

She said they hope to be able to travel home as soon as they are discharged, on a flight arranged by their tour operator.

Mr Holmes criticised the Foreign Office who, he said, could have been more helpful.

"I actually got told by the Foreign Office that if we did not do as the Vietnamese authorities told us then our human rights might be infringed," he said.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We are in close contact with the Vietnamese authorities dealing with Covid-19 cases linked to a Vietnam Airlines flight from London that arrived in Hanoi on 2 March.

"We are providing consular assistance to the British people affected.

"We advise all British nationals in Vietnam to follow our travel advice, which is kept under constant review."

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The government in Vietnam has suspended its visa waiver programme for a number of countries including the UK from March 12, meaning British citizens travelling there from that date will need a visa.