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Stranded overseas: Hundreds of thousands of Australians face possibility of being stuck abroad

Hundreds of thousands of Australians could be stranded overseas if they don’t secure a flight home in coming days.

With countries all over the world shutting their borders in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus, travellers are scrambling to return to their homes while flights are still operating.

The federal government says it is in discussions with airlines about the continuation of some international flights to help bring Australians home, but Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the government is limited in what it can do.

“At any one time there are literally hundred and hundreds of thousands of Australians overseas,” she told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“Obviously we have to work within the rules of the countries in which people are located.

“We also have limitations on the number of flights that are available … airlines around the world, not just in Australia, have had to severely curtail their flights.”

“But nevertheless we are trying everything at our disposal.”

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Australian woman Deb Bennett was due to fly out of Lima early this week, but when Peru declared a state of emergency on Monday all flights out were cancelled.

“The government declared a state of emergency pretty much overnight, so those flights obviously won’t leave, so there’s no incoming or outgoing people across the Peruvian border now,” she told 3AW’s Ross and John.

A private travel company is trying to charter a flight for Australians stuck in Peru, but even if successful, those stranded may have trouble getting to the airport.

“You’re not allowed to travel on the roads,” Ms Bennett said.

“24 hours a day no private cars are allowed on the road.”

Australia’s borders will close to all non-residents tonight. After 9pm only Australian citizens, permanent residents, New Zealand citizens who usually reside in Australia, and immediate family members of permanent residents or citizens will be allowed entry into Australia.

All arrivals into Australia will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Earlier this week Virgin Australia announced the cancellation of all international flights, and Qantas and Jetstar revealed they will cut international flights by 90 per cent.

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Anyone who needs advice on how to get home, or knows someone who does, is urged to contact the consular emergency line:

Within Australia: 1300 555 135
Outside Australia: +61 6261 3305

Coronavirus: Aussie travellers left stranded after last minute flight cancellations

Image: Peter Parks / Getty Images