Returning from virus hit France

An island girl has spoken of her relief at flying out of France earlier than planned as Covid-19 fear tightens its grip on Europe.

By Eric Mackinnon
Friday, 20th March 2020, 5:37 pm
Eilidh Macdonald, 20, from Back on Lewis had been in France since August studying.
Eilidh Macdonald, 20, from Back on Lewis had been in France since August studying.

Eilidh Macdonald, 20, from Back on Lewis has spent a year in France studying at the Catholic University of Lyon as part of her French and International Business course at Edinburgh’s Napier University.

But this week she flew back to Scotland as France began to slip into chaos following President Emmanuel Macron’s move to lockdown the country in his televised address to the nation on Monday. President Macron shut schools and also suspended all trips between non-European countries and EU countries.

The measures are expected to be in place for at least 30 days.

“I flew to Glasgow via Amsterdam from France on Sunday and I’m so glad I did as I hadn’t been due to come home until Tuesday and I have been getting alerts all day saying France is closing its borders and stopping all non-essential travel,” Eilidh told the Gazette.

“I’m not sure if my travel would have been considered essential, so I’m lucky I left when I did, as I might have been stuck.”

She continued: “I’ve been in France since last August and was due to be there until the end of April. It has been great and I’ve loved it, and to be honest had you not been watching the news or the information on social media, then you wouldn’t have thought anything was happening.

“Nobody was really too concerned and nothing different was really happening until the President announced he was closing the schools then it all changed.”

Eilidh has been living in student accommodation in Lyon with her lease not due to expire until next month. But these are exceptional circumstances and she says her landlord was a great help and very understanding.

“I was supposed to be in the flat another month but the owner was very understanding given the current situation of things and was fine with me leaving earlier,” she said.

“I think 11 people all left in the past few days as well.”

She continued: “I would rather be stuck in Glasgow than in a foreign country where I’m more on my own and getting to my family would mean going through French and UK borders which might be much more difficult.”

Eilidh is set to return home to island soil this week but she is taking precautions despite feeling in perfect health.

“I will be returning home this week and plan to self-isolate like other international students for at least a week as I don’t want to be of any risk. I also have family and friends who work for the NHS, who are vital players for controlling this pandemic.,” she said.

“I have zero symptoms and I feel fine, but because I’ve been in France which is a higher risk area I will isolate, as I think it is the right thing to do.

“I turn 21 in three weeks’ time and had booked to go to New York for my birthday but that won’t happen now as the world is just in chaos.”