Some of the T&T medical students take a group picture minutes before boarding the Caribbean Airlines repatriation flight from Havana to T&T yesterday.

Just 11 out of the 21 medical students who were studying in Cuba have finally arrived home bringing a sigh of relief to the group.

The group was also grateful to the Government, including the Minister of National Security Stuart Young and the Prime Minister for granting them the exemption to return home.

The repatriation flight was via Caribbean Airlines.

However, some of the students could not make it on the repatriation flight as they were still stuck at a university waiting on their dates for examinations.

After taking off from Havana, the flight stopped in St Maarten before proceeding to the Piarco International Airport where it landed at 7.30 pm yesterday.

From there, with a convoy inclusive of 10 regimental vehicles and police cars, the group was whisked away around 9 pm to begin their state quarantine at the University of the West Indies, Debe Campus.

The quarantine will last the mandatory 14 days before they can reunite with their families.

Speaking with the Guardian Media, one parent was elated in having the students return home but at the same time expressed a heavy heart for those of them who are still in Cuba.

“They have arrived. I am very happy that they are home although some of them couldn’t get to come home but we are hoping that when their exams are over they will get to come home,” the parent said.

“The families are happy. The students are very happy to be home and we are all looking forward to seeing and hearing that they are all COVID-19 free,” the parent added.

“But my heart goes out to all of them who are still there in Cuba and for their sake we are hoping that the exemption still stands for the rest of them but those are things we have to explore with the Ministry of National Security when that time reaches,” the parent said.

“We thank the T&T Government, the National Security Minister and the Prime Minister for giving them the exemption and to the Guardian Media for standing with us along this journey,” the parent said.

After applying for an exemption to return to T&T in March because of the extreme shortage of supplies, the green light was given to the students on July 1 via an email sent to them by National Security Minister Stuart Young which stated: “I have granted approval.”

Initially, the repatriation flight was scheduled for last Saturday, July 4 before being postponed to today.