Former Burnley Blessed Trinity pupil stranded in Fiji

A young Burnley woman is facing an anxious wait to see if she can get home after becoming stranded in Fiji due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Former Blessed Trinity pupil Maddison Stevenson (22) was on the final leg of a dream backpacking holiday around the Far East when she became stranded on the South Pacific island.

Her anxious parents, street lighting engineer Craig Simpson and hairdresser Gail Simpson, who live in Brierfield, contacted the Express to highlight Maddison's plight.

Craig said: "Maddison had been enjoying the trip of a lifetime after finishing university and was on the final leg, travelling from New Zealand to Fiji, when things got complicated.

Maddison Stevenson enjoying her travelling before the outbreak

"Throughout her travelling she'd been accompanied by a friend from university but she managed to get home from New Zealand.

"It had always been Maddison's dream to travel to Fiji and she carried on around some of the more remote islands in the group.

"However, it turns out that a flight attendant on her flight from Auckland to Fji had been infected with the coronavirus.

"The Fijian authorities had been desperately trying to trace everyone who had been on the flight but had been unable to reach Maddison because she had no phone signal due to being in the remote islands.

"When she got back to the main island she was immediately sent to hospital and quarantined for two days, but because she showed no symptoms she spent the rest of the quarantine period in a hostel."

Maddison, who had studied dance at Leeds Beckett University, is now staying in an apartment with a British couple who live in New Zealand but are similarly stranded in Fiji.

She is keeping touch with her family over the phone and on Facetime but is having "up and down" days according to Craig who says they are sending her money when they can.

The couple have been in touch with local MP Andrew Stephenson who has directed them to the government website for further advice.

Maddison's next best chance of getting home is getting on a flight to Los Angeles but this is still far from certain.

Craig said: "We had been frantically trying to get Maddison on a flight to Singapore but this was cancelled and she likely wouldn't have been allowed on anyway as she had been exposed to the virus.

"We are worried about her but thankfully the older British couple she is staying with have been brilliant with her. She is trying to keep cheerful.

"Obviously there are worse places to be stranded but she just wants to be home now.

"We're hoping this flight to LA will still be running. If not, it could be months. Gail's hair salon in Rosegrove is closed because of the outbreak so money is getting tight.

"Maddison wanted to go on this trip before experiencing the real world but I think she's certainly experiencing that now. Hopefully we can get her home sooner rather than later," Craig added.

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