Estonian tourist stranded in Manila airport for 110 days due to COVID-19 goes home

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Roman Trofimov has been living in the departures lounge of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport since March 20, after immigration authorities stopped issuing visas for entry into the country. (Facebook: Roman Trofimov)
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Roman Trofimov has been living in the departures lounge of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport since March 20, after immigration authorities stopped issuing visas for entry into the country. (Facebook: Roman Trofimov)
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Roman Trofimov has been living in the departures lounge of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport since March 20, after immigration authorities stopped issuing visas for entry into the country. (Facebook: Roman Trofimov)
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Roman Trofimov has been living in the departures lounge of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport since March 20, after immigration authorities stopped issuing visas for entry into the country. (Facebook: Roman Trofimov)
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Roman Trofimov has been living in the departures lounge of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport since March 20, after immigration authorities stopped issuing visas for entry into the country. (Facebook: Roman Trofimov)
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Updated 07 July 2020

Estonian tourist stranded in Manila airport for 110 days due to COVID-19 goes home

  • Was stranded in an experience reminiscent of Tom Hanks’ character in the 2004 film “The Terminal”

LONDON: An Estonian tourist who spent more than 100 days living in an airport in the Philippines due to coronavirus travel restrictions is finally returning home, he said on Tuesday.

Roman Trofimov has been living in the departures lounge of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport since March 20, after immigration authorities stopped issuing visas for entry into the country.

He was then stranded in the airport for a total of 110 days until July 7.

In an experience reminiscent of Tom Hanks’ character in the 2004 film “The Terminal,” Trofimov said he was sleeping on the airport floor, eating in its restaurants and washing in public bathrooms before the Estonian consulate arranged for his transfer to a passenger lounge on April 1.

On Tuesday, Trofimov said he was returning to Estonia on a plane landing in Tallinn on July 8.

Trofimov said he was on a “dream trip” traveling around Southeast Asia when coronavirus lockdowns began across the continent. He said his passport was taken by AirAsia staff before going through immigration in Manila on March 20.

He was booked to take an onward flight to Cebu province on the same day, with a return trip to Bangkok booked for April 2. Both flights were canceled as COVID-19 decimated international travel.

Due to entry visas not being issued by Philippine immigration authorities he was denied entry into the country, but the airline he flew in was unable to return him to Thailand as flights were being grounded.

According to Estonian media, Trofimov was traveling on what is known as a “grey passport” for people of “unclear citizenship” — issued to people with residency rights in Estonia who cannot get another passport.

In a statement, the Estonian foreign ministry said: “It is important to note that he flew to the Philippines during a time when countries had announced emergency situations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had given a travel warning.”

Estonian officials told broadcaster ERR they had tried to help Trofimov organize a flight home, but according to reports he initially declined a repatriation flight due to the cost.

Speaking earlier this week, Trofimov said: “I've been stuck here for more than 100 days. I need help getting out.”

He added: “The airline said I need to wait for an ‘Enhanced Community Quarantine’ to be over before I am allowed to fly. I’ve been waiting here ever since.”

The Philippines has almost 48,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 1,300 people have died from the virus.


Israeli jeweler makes $1.5m gold coronavirus mask

Updated 11 August 2020

Israeli jeweler makes $1.5m gold coronavirus mask

  • The 18-karat white gold mask will be decorated with 3,600 white and black diamonds
  • The Israeli company says it will be the world’s most expensive coronavirus mask

MOTZA: An Israeli jewelry company is working on what it says will be the world’s most expensive coronavirus mask, a gold, diamond-encrusted face covering with a price tag of $1.5 million.

The 18-karat white gold mask will be decorated with 3,600 white and black diamonds and fitted with top-rated N99 filters at the request of the buyer, said designer Isaac Levy.

Levy, owner of the Yvel company, said the buyer had two other demands: that it be completed by the end of the year, and that it would be the priciest in the world. That last condition, he said, “was the easiest to fulfill.”

He declined to identify the buyer, but said he was a Chinese businessman living in the United States.

The glitzed-up face mask may lend some pizzazz to the protective gear now mandatory in public spaces in many countries. But at 270 grams (over half a pound) — nearly 100 times that of a typical surgical mask — it is not likely to be a practical accessory to wear.

n an interview at his factory near Jerusalem, Levy showed off several pieces of the mask, covered in diamonds. One gold plate had a hole for the filter.

“Money maybe doesn’t buy everything, but if it can buy a very expensive COVID-19 mask and the guy wants to wear it and walk around and get the attention, he should be happy with that,” Levy said.

Such an ostentatious mask might also rub some the wrong way at a time when millions of people around the world are out of work or suffering economically. Levy said that while he would not wear it himself, he was thankful for the opportunity.

“I am happy that this mask gave us enough work for our employees to be able to provide their jobs in very challenging times like these times right now,” he said.