Many stranded tourists have left NMI already

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ABOUT 80 of the 130 stranded tourists on Saipan have been repatriated already, but there are “issues” with those who are still on island, especially the individuals from Wuhan, Hubei, China, Commonwealth Ports Authority Chairwoman Kimberlyn King-Hinds said, referring to the lockdown in the Chinese province.

The novel coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, capital of Hubei, in Dec. 2019.

But King-Hinds said CPA was also told that Korea has lifted some of its border restrictions and may allow entry to China through Korea.

King-Hinds said CPA expects the remaining stranded tourists, who were brought to the island by Hong Kong Express Airways, will avail themselves of the flights to China via Korea.

She said the CNMI central government, CPA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Pacific Oriental Inc., a local aircraft ground handling company, are coordinating efforts to assist the stranded tourists.

“Although this is not an airport operator issue, CPA’s ports police have stepped up to the plate to provide the stranded passengers with information as to who to contact for assistance. CPA ports police also obtained their contact and other pertinent information necessary so that they can be provided with the assistance they need to return home,” King-Hinds said.

On Thursday last week, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres asked Hong Kong Express Airways General Manager Nicolas Wong to repatriate the stranded passengers.

The governor expressed grave concern with HKE’s suspension of flights that was done “hastily and without notice,” leaving 130 travelers stranded in the CNMI with limited to no options for their return to their home countries.

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