Abu Dhabi: Hannah O'Reilly’s plight as a pregnant Dubai resident stranded in the United States due to COVID-19 travel restrictions attracted widespread attention.
Now, the 29-year-old is back and safe in the UAE, thanks to the UAE leadership, after a previous Gulf News article detailing her ordeal attracted the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC).
“I was especially stressed out, being away from husband and with the situation worsening in the US. Then I received a call last Wednesday, telling me that I would be brought to the UAE with other Emiratis who were flying back,” O'Reilly, supply teacher at a Dubai-based school, told Gulf News.
“I got call from the UAE Embassy, and I was asked to drive down to a hotel in Washington where other UAE-bound travelers were being housed,” she added.
Since March 18 when travel restrictions were introduced, only Emiratis living abroad have been able to enter the UAE. All inbound and outbound flights have also been temporarily suspended in order to support efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus globally.
O'Reilly is currently six months pregnant with her first child, and Gulf News reported her situation last week. She said at the time that she would have felt much safer being back home in Dubai.
O'Reilly said her husband Dan had reached out to the UAE authorities by then and registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) on the dedicated Towajudi website.
The expat flew out on Saturday, and returned to the UAE at 8pm on Sunday.
“I cannot explain just how much compassion I’ve been shown throughout this whole episode. Every single person at the UAE Embassy in the US has been extremely patient, and I’m receiving absolutely wonderful treatment even during my quarantine,” O'Reilly said.
“My husband is also relieved that I am back, and he obviously cannot wait for me to finish the quarantine period and return home,” she added.
O'Reilly detailed how her travel had been extremely smooth.
“We were all given gloves and masks for the 13-hour direct flight to Abu Dhabi, and most people put them on. The flight was three-quarters full. We had our temperature taken after we boarded the plane. After we landed, we had our temperature taken again at the airport, along with a nasopharyngeal swab. It was all so smoothly executed that it seems unbelievable such systems have only recently been put in place,” she explained.
Quarantine in Abu Dhabi
She is now quarantined for 14 days at a hotel in the capital, along with other returnees. To ensure her wellbeing, health authorities in the UAE are arranging for her to discuss her case with her own doctors.
“I’ve also been told that I will receive supplies of all the medication I need. Added to this, I have received three free meals a day according to my dietary needs and preferences, all delivered to my door, and I have been told that I can send for laundry service twice a week,” O'Reilly said.
Although she cannot meet her husband for the moment, he has dropped off items for her at the hotel.
“I wanted some popcorn and my pregnancy pillow, and he lovingly brought them along,” O'Reilly said.
The expat added that she is extremely grateful to the UAE leadership for their compassion, and wants to help others in the same situation.
“I’ve uploaded some of my experiences to my Instagram account, and am directing anyone who reached out to me to the Towajudi website and hotline,” she said.