Alisha Malhotra and Niraly Jadeja

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Alisha Malhotra/Niraly Jadeja

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Alisha Malhotra (left) and Niraly Jadeja had been one month into a 12 week “trip of a lifetime”

Two Londoners who have been “stranded” in Argentina for three weeks say they still have “no idea” when they will be able to get home.

Alisha Malhotra and Niraly Jadeja have been trapped in Córdoba since the country went into lockdown, and are relying on others for food and money.

Ms Malhotra said she was particularly “desperate” to return after an elderly relative contracted coronavirus.

The Foreign Office said it was “working urgently” to help UK travellers.

Ms Malhotra, 24, from Ruislip, and Ms Jadeja, 23, from Rayner’s Lane, were a month into a 12-week “trip of a lifetime” to five different countries when they arrived in Córdoba on 17 March.

Two days later, a strict quarantine severely limiting travel and allowing only single-person journeys to buy necessities was imposed nationwide and has since been extended until 12 April.

Travellers have been warned that anyone caught outside their accommodation without justification may be charged with committing a public health crime.

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Alisha Malhotra/Niraly Jadeja

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The pair have called for the UK government to help them return home

Following the announcement, the pair said they were barricaded inside their hostel for 10 days, with police and army officials patrolling the streets.

“We were locked within four walls and relied on locals to do a food shop for 20 of us in our hostel, every four days,” Ms Jadeja said.

“The only place we could go for fresh air was the rooftop – but the police came and shut that down.”

A letter from the British Embassy in Argentina has allowed them to move to a new hostel, but they have run out of physical cash and have not been allowed to go outside to an ATM.

As a result they are relying on others in the hostel to pay for their food shopping.

The women say their families are desperate for them to return home, especially since one of their grandparents is on life support in intensive care having contracted the virus.

“Me and my grandma are best friends. I slept in her bed almost every night when I was little,” said Ms Malhotra.

“If anything happens, I’d never forgive myself for not being in the UK. I feel helpless.”

The government has announced plans to repatriate UK travellers stuck abroad and the pair said “the dream right now would be for the government to contact us and say help is coming”.

The Foreign Office (FCO) told the BBC it recognised British tourists abroad were finding it difficult to return to the UK because of “unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions”.

“FCO teams around the world are working urgently to ensure that governments have sensible plans to enable the return of British and other travellers,” it said.

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