A 33-year-old American woman lacking life-saving drugs to treat an autoimmune disease finally boarded a plane on Wednesday after being detained in Peru for about 10 days, but hundreds of others US citizens got stuck after the Civil War. The American country has closed its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Anna, who requested not to disclose her surname because of privacy concerns related to her medical condition, after boarding a Cusco plane.
At the same time, it was bittersweet. On the way to the airport, Anna and her husband saw a long line of Americans wanting to fly. Her husband told the Associated Press that some people “sit outside the airport for a week.”
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“ Obviously, not everyone was on this flight online, ” he said, unlike previous planes, LATAM planes organized by the U.S. Department of State and allowed to land by Peruvian authorities had 167 people. He added that there were passengers.
The flight from Cusco to Miami, stopping at Lima, the capital of Peru, was a culmination of more than a week desperately trying to escape the country of South America. The couple chartered the plane, left Cusco and was located in the Andes near the ancient archeological site of Machu Picchu, but the Peruvian government refused to give permission to land. When they sought help from the State Department, they said that government agencies were said to be working on the situation.
“There are other foreign governments that can take citizens out, but there appear to be some deadlocks in the United States that allow the Peruvian government to land planes,” Anna said Tuesday. “But there are so many citizens who want to go home,” he said.
The pandemic has noticed that thousands of US citizens have been trapped abroad. Anna and her husband, like many others, said they struggled to get help and information.
Ian Brownlee, head of the U.S. Department of Repatriation Task Force on Repatriation, said on Wednesday that the country and the U.S. Embassy in Peru had secured the necessary permission from the Foreign Office to land on Tuesday. Is obviously the right people to run the airport. ”
The situation was chaotic, according to Brownlee, but it seemed resolved, with two flights departing from Lima and Cusco departing on Wednesday. He told reporters at a news conference that he expects more flights to depart this week. Peru still has about 4,000 Americans, and there are many Americans in nearby Ecuador, according to Brownlee.
President Peru, a soft spoken U.S. ally of Martin Biscara, was one of the first Latin Americans to close the border with the coronavirus pandemic, deploy troops, and demand that people stay home. was. Initially allowed for exemption of chartered repatriation flights, but ended on Saturday.
The pandemic has infected more than 400,000 people worldwide and killed more than 20,000 people. COVID-19 disease causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but can cause severe, life-threatening symptoms, especially in the elderly or those with pre-existing health problems such as Anna There is a possibility.
Peru confirmed the first case of the virus on March 6, three days before arriving to meet her husband who was there as part of a South American trip. When Vizcarra declared an emergency and closed the border on March 15, they were given only 24 hours to depart.
Anna’s husband immediately sought help from the U.S. Embassy and told authorities about her unstable health and reduced drug supply. He provided a note from her US physician who testified that “it is very urgent and important for her to return to the United States” for treatment.
He then contacted political leaders in Texas, including Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornin, saying that he had tried to help. The couple believed that an American plane would arrive on Tuesday, but that did not happen.
Another flight was refused that day. American Federal spokeswoman Ross Feinstein said a charter flight from Miami arrived in Peru airspace that afternoon, but was denied permission to land and went around until fuel levels dictated a return to Florida. Was. The State Department stated that Peru also did not provide permission for LATAM flights to pick up Americans in Cusco.
According to Anna’s report to the AP, various commercial aviation charter companies were eager to find a way to take them home.
Steve Panzella, president of Horizon Jets Charter Inc., said Tuesday that the couple was willing to contact him about an air ambulance and bring other Americans home on all chartered flights, but hold-up Had secured permission from Peru.
“People throughout Latin America have received calls 24 hours a day, but not as well as in Peru,” Panzella said. “People are hopeless.”
In an interview, other Americans who traveled to Peru patrolled the streets during the blockade and drew tragic pictures of armed troops making sure they stayed at their hotels. Some told the AP that they didn’t know how or when to get home. Others managed to leave by purchasing tickets through a local travel agency. However, they were informed in advance of the flight and did not know if they had enough seats until they boarded.
To help Peruvian aviation officials, Mr. Brownlee said that the Lima airport had to wait for departures and stage passengers waiting for departure, as the State Department’s International Drug Enforcement Agency emptied hangers on the military side of Lima’s airport. He said it would be an area.
“We are doing what we can to help the Peruvians,” he said.
For Anna, at least the ordeal is over.
She looks forward to having access to her medicine. And after being locked in the hotel for more than a week, she was looking forward to another: “Walking around the green lawn in the backyard”.
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