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65 Irish doctors quit jobs in Australia to fight virus at home - but can't get flights


Zoe Lynch

Zoe Lynch

Zoe Lynch

A group of 65 young Irish doctors in Australia has quit their jobs and are pleading with the Government to arrange a flight to allow them return home to Ireland to help out in the coronavirus crisis.

The doctors, who have several years' experience in a range of medical specialities, are based in various hospitals in Perth.

Zoe Lynch (27), from Cabinteely in Dublin, who is one of the group, said they were desperate to return home to provide medical back-up as hospitals face growing pressure.

"We have asked the Department of Foreign Affairs if it could arrange a flight for us, with a charter flight as an option. We appreciate officials have been extremely kind and helpful but so far have not been successful," she said.

They said Irish embassy officials told them that as long as commercial flights are running that is not possible.

However, the decision of airline Emirates to suspend flights until June has left many of the doctors who had booked to return this week with cancellations.

"Flights are advertised for sale but there is no transit allowed through Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. None of us can find a commercial flight until next week, which could get cancelled. There are business flights but they are extremely expensive," said Dr Lynch.

"We are all ready and have quit our jobs.

"Some doctors were in senior positions. The hospitals in Perth have been totally supportive of our decision.

"I came here a year and a half ago and am currently in paediatrics. There are doctors who planned to stay another year but have now decided to go home."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said: "We are in direct contact with a number of Irish citizens currently in Australia, through the Irish embassy in Canberra and the consulate general in Sydney.

"This is a rapidly evolving situation and consular officials are following up with Irish citizens providing all possible advice and support in relation to those seeking to repatriate to Ireland."

Irish Independent