South Tyneside family torn apart by coronavirus as mum is stranded in Philippines during the pandemic

A South Tyneside family torn apart by coronavirus have no idea when they will be reunited with their mum.

Dan Gibas of Fellgate, Jarrow hasn’t seen his wife for four months since she was stranded in the Philippines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Dan, 38 and wife Rizza, 32, who met in Malaysia, were married in 2014.

The couple moved back to his hometown in South Tyneside with their two daughters, aged 10 and six, in August last year.

Dan and Rizza Gibas and their daughters before the coronavirus lockdown.

Rizza left the family home on March 1, to stay with relatives in Manila while she applied for a partner visa for the UK - after being advised she would need to do so from outside the country.

The mum-of-two expected to return within weeks, but due to the outbreak of coronavirus and the lockdown measures imposed in March, she has no idea when she might be reunited with her children.

Dan - desperate for his daughters to have their mum back - said: “We’re in a situation where we just don't know when we're going to see her again.

“Now we have no idea where her passport is in the process, how to get it back or how to get her back to the UK.

Rizza Gibas is currently stuck in the Philippines and hasn't seen her daughters for four months.

“I understand that it’s difficult with the current situation but we’ve had no update or timeline, just generic responses.

“It’s only going to get worse as the centres reopen as there’s a huge backlog to deal with.”

The Philippines had imposed one of the longest and toughest lockdowns in the world to cope with the spread of coronavirus.

Dan says Rizza has been struggling to get by with food and cash shortages in the country and fears of civil unrest as the virus took hold.

“The conditions over there are bad, she has been struggling to get by and that just adds to the worry,” he said.

“We need to know when something is going to happen so that we have a date to work towards.

“I’m at home with two small children every day crying for their mum and there is no end in sight.

“They haven’t hugged their mum in four months now.”

As lockdown restrictions are eased and schools slowly start to reopen across the country, Dan says he won’t be sending his daughters back until their mum is home.

“They won’t be going back the school until their mum is here to walk them to the school gates - I don’t want these milestones to pass without her,” he added.

“We are just in limbo, waiting for mummy to come home to have summer together.”

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne’s office has been liaising with the Home Office in regards to Rizza’s return.

A spokesperson said: “We are in contact with the Home Office regularly and are trying to assist Dan, Rizza and their children as much as we possibly can.”

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