ATLANTA (WJBF) – The U.S. State Department says it’s repatriated stranded Americans from 28 countries. Nearly one-thousand American citizens now stuck in Peru because of the coronavirus lockdown will head back to the U.S. after a push from the American embassy.
3 flights for U.S. citizens departed Peru for Miami Thursday, and among the passengers, a group of Georgia college students who were in Cusco on clinical rotations.
Atlanta bureau chief, Archith Seshadri, talks exclusively with one of those students, and shares the heart warming reunion.
With several countries closing their borders and flights being cancelled because of lower demand, many American citizens are stranded and scrambling to get back to the U.S.
This after the U.S. State Department issued it’s highest level travel advisory to get citizens back here to the country or risk being stranded outside for an indefinite period of time.
“We panicked and were trying to do whatever we could to get out of the country.”
Augusta University student Natalie Reed is one of the lucky ones.
“At the beginning of the month, my classmates and I, 7 of us total, were heading to Cusco, Peru for our women’s health rotations for P.A. schools. We were supposed to be there for 4 weeks working in the clinics and hospitals,” says Natalie.
Her trip to Peru quickly escalated after the country closed its borders and ordered a lockdown.
“Basically you had to get out or there was a mandatory 15 day quarantine under martial law and everything was shutting down besides groceries, pharamcies, medical centers.”
“Every night we didn’t make it to bed before 1 or 2 in the morning with the stress and tension in the air,” says mother, Cathy Reed.
“We had no answers from the U.S. embassy the first few days,” says Natalie.
She turned to social media and her family for help and returned home safely after a week.
“It’s crazy, to say the least,” says Cathy. “I am used to my husband working out of the house.
He is in the basement with a full office set up there. My other daughter has taken over my house and then I get Natalie and she’s taken over my kitchen table and I’ve been relegated to the laundry room.”
“It feels amazing to be back in the U.S.,” says Natalie. “I will never take a plane ride for granted again. I was smiling the whole flight back.”
While her graduation is delayed, she hopes to practice soon and return to Peru once the dust settles.
Peru is extending the quarantine until April 12th which means airports there will remain closed.
The U.S. embassy is sending charter flights to military bases to Peru and says it is aware
that some hotels and authorities are not allowing people to leave due to the quarantine.