Hundreds of Americans Stranded in Peru After Borders Shut Down to Fight Coronavirus

Travellers await for their flights out of Peru on March 16, 2020 at the Jorge Chavez international airport in Callao, Lima, minutes before borders are closed. - On March 15, 2020, President Martin Vizcarra announced a State of Emergency and a two-week nationwide home-stay curfew together with the closure of …
LUKA GONZALES/AFP via Getty

Hundreds of Americans are stuck in Peru after the government shut down the country’s borders (land, air, and maritime) on Monday as part of its strategy to slow the number of coronavirus infections.

The United States Embassy in Peru announced on Tuesday the Peruvian Ministry of Health confirmed 117 coronavirus cases, with 13 hospitalized. No deaths have yet been reported.

So far, the embassy has not announced plans to help the Americans:

American Citizens who remain in Peru should arrange lodging for the duration of the quarantine period and plan to limit their movements.  Limited quarantine exemptions include movement to obtain food and medical care.  Travelers currently in country should consult iPeru for the latest guidance for tourists.  The Embassy will provide a daily update on this page as this situation develops.

The Hill reported on some of the Americans stranded in the country:

Many Americans have been caught up in the confusion, split between the port city of Lima where the international airport is and the mountain town of Cuzco, which has one airport. A number of Americans stuck in the country say they are having difficulty finding places to sleep.

Two Americans tried to organize stranded U.S. travelers by creating a group chat on the messaging service WhatsApp, which has expanded to nearly 300 participants and more people being added.

They say they have received little to no communication with the U.S. Embassy in Peru, are distraught over whether they can return to the U.S. and are concerned over whether those with permanent residency status in the U.S. will be able to return.They have organized a spreadsheet with their information, set up a Facebook group and directed chat members to register for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. 

The Americans are also using Twitter to appeal to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to address their plight.

 

“We walked two hours and were met by a cop and a translator saying that they just closed the borders,” Jenna Saulo, 26, who lives in Florida said in a phone call from Lima, the Hill reported.

At the international airport in Lima, Saulo, who has a four-year-old daughter in the U.S., was told all flights were canceled until April 1. 

“The presidential quarantine caught us all by surprise. There was no time to get out,” Kristin Monesmith, a nurse who lives in North Carolina, wrote on Whatsapp.“The consulate has been less than any help, just refers to a website. We truly feel abandoned by the U.S.”

“It’s closed down for next 15 days, or at least that’s what we know as of right now,” Dan West said in the Hill report. “Who knows what the government will do in the next week or two.”

West and a friend went to the U.S. Consulate in Cuzco but only received a referral to the embassy website and the airline where they had booked tickets.

CNN reported on the State Department’s reaction to Americans stuck in other countries because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that the State Department ‘has a responsibility to try and help American citizens wherever they are.'”

“It’s not just about our officers serving in these distant places, protecting themselves and our team, but making sure we’re doing the right thing by the American people,” Pompeo said at the State Department. 

“Pompeo offered no details about the department’s plans to assist citizens abroad,” CNN reported.

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