A Saskatoon woman stranded in Peru due to the COVID-19 pandemic is calling on the federal government to be transparent about its plans to get Canadians home.
Jenna Farber, 27, and her boyfriend Carlin Fillmore, 34, tried to fly out of Peru the day before the country closed its borders, but there weren’t any seats available.
“The government gave us 24-hours notice that they were shutting down their borders,” Farber told Global News from an Airbnb in Cusco.
“By that point, everybody was already in panic mode.”
On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne tweeted that three Air Canada flights are heading to Peru this week.
Farber said those flights are going to the capital, Lima — a city hundreds of kilometres from Cusco.
She has been in touch with the Canadian embassy and receives a daily email update from the government, but said she has no idea how they’re going to get home.
“We just really feel like we’ve been left to our own devices here and we feel like we’ve been left in the dark,” she said.
“We just want to get home as soon as possible and just want answers on when that’s going to be.”
Farber said she’s trying not to get her hopes up until the government comes up with a concrete plan to get all Canadians out of Peru.
“Every day it’s just like there’s hope and then that hope gets pulled out from underneath you,” she said.
“It’s been very challenging just to keep the positivity and faith that our government will come and help us.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government will not be able to help everyone but will help as many people as possible.
Farber said there needs to be more communication with Canadians who are stranded.
In the meantime, she and Fillmore are wary of getting sick abroad and are feeling less secure every day. There’s tension between some locals and tourists, she said, with the finger being pointed at travellers for bringing the novel coronavirus to Peru.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster,” Farber said. “Physically, we feel fine … so we’re grateful for that. But mentally, it’s been very draining.”
The couple has been killing time by cooking and watching television, constantly waiting for an update on plans to get them out of Peru.
“That’s all we want,” she said, “is to be home.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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