Coronavirus: pregnant Hongkonger stuck in Pakistan’s lockdown as mental health medication runs out

Elizabeth Cheung

Stranded in Pakistan during its coronavirus lockdown and 23 weeks pregnant, Khan, 26, a Hong Kong permanent resident who only wants to be known by her surname, is at her wits’ end.

She is on prescribed medication for mental conditions, but her supply will run dry if she does not return to the city.

While a chartered flight arranged by the Hong Kong government is expected to bring back as many as 300 people from the country on Thursday, Khan said she had still not heard from authorities with details as of Monday afternoon.

Hong Kong targets Thursday to begin flying residents back from Pakistan: source

Pakistan has banned international flights since late March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hong Kong authorities have so far contacted about 2,000 residents stranded in the South Asian country.

“I am so desperate to come back,” said Khan, a mother of two who is expecting her third child. She came to Hong Kong from Pakistan with her family when she was six.

“My mental health is doing so bad. I have anxiety and panic attacks.

“I am suffering from nightmares of being stuck here and may be forced to give birth in Pakistan. I honestly cannot imagine doing that.”

On February 15 this year, Khan travelled to Pakistan with family members to visit relatives, and planned to leave on March 23. But a lockdown was imposed in the region of Kashmir, where she was staying in, on March 22.

“I was so unfortunate. I missed my flight by one day,” she said.

Kahn does not know when she will finally see the arrivals hall of Hong Kong International Airport. Photo: Winson Wong

She has been hoping for the lockdown to be cancelled, but her hopes have so far been dashed.

“I wait for that day to come and I am hopeful. But after [each two-week stretch], they extend for another two weeks,” Khan said. “This has been going on for around six weeks now.”

“I still have [enough medication] for four to five days, but after that I will run out,” she said.

Dreams on hold for stranded Hong Kong students set to miss exams

She had sought help from Hong Kong’s Immigration Department and the Chinese embassy in Pakistan on her medical needs, but was told the drugs she needed were only available in Islamabad, the country’s capital which was around two hours’ drive from where Khan was staying.

Even if she makes it there, she is unsure if she can get the drug as she does not have a prescription issued by local doctors in the country.

“There are no psychiatrist clinics open, there are no private clinics open,” she said. “I have not had a prenatal check-up ever since I came here because I thought I would be going back.”

She said only the emergency departments at government hospitals were open, but they would only take in pregnant women who were about to give birth.

As time ticks by, Khan is worried that she will not be able to get on a plane if her pregnancy passes the 28-week mark.

The Hong Kong government said in a press release on Saturday that people who were in Islamabad or its surrounding area, as well as those with special needs including pregnant women, would be among those helped to leave the country first.

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