Irish citizen placed under quarantine by armed soldiers in Peru

An Irish citizen is among a group of 146 tourists who have been placed under quarantine for up to three months in their hostel by armed soldiers in Peru.
Irish citizen placed under quarantine by armed soldiers in Peru

An Irish citizen is among a group of 146 tourists who have been placed under quarantine for up to three months in their hostel by armed soldiers in Peru.

The complex has been shut down and is surrounded by armed police and soldiers.

This is because two guests tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week.

Their identity is not known but other Irish tourists in neighbouring hostels fear they may also get quarantined if any of their fellow residents test positive for the deadly virus.

Along with nine UK citizens, the Irish citizen is now locked inside the Pariwana Hostel in the south eastern Peruvian city Cusco.

And they have been warned they face ten years jail if they fail to comply with the quarantine.

They are now only allowed out of their room for one hour a day, and they must also wear a face mask at all times.

The Irish citizen is one of around 130 Irish tourists in the country who have been desperately trying to leave the country for nearly two weeks.

Their efforts were stepped up at the end of last week in advance of Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra’s decision to close his borders and impose martial law.

The only flights leaving the country are via the military base in Lima.

Irish and UK citizens in Perus had been expected to fly out on Wednesday but many were unable to get to the capital.

Apart from the sheer distances involved to get to Lima, a lot of roads are sealed by army or police.

Those trapped in Peru include Andrew Cotter, from Mitchelstown, Cork, and his 30-year-old girlfriend Marie Barry, from Conna.

They are among a group of around 35 Irish citizens trapped ihe south eastern Peruvian city of Cusco.

It takes 21 hours by road to get from there to the capital.

They also include Catherine Scroope and Ruadhán Elliott, from Bantry, west Cork.

Ireland’s Ambassador to Chile yesterday assured Irish citizens in Peru that everything is being done to get them out “at this distressing time”.

In an email to people registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Paul Gleeson told them Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney is continuing to work on evacuation flights.

The Peruvian authorities have been asked if the plane can land in Lima and apparently they are now waiting for the government to agree a date and time for the flight.

Ireland’s request for permission to land a plane in Lima is, he told them, one of a “significant number” of such requests been put forward by different countries.

“But we are hopeful we will have the relevant permission soon,” he told them.

“Once we have that, we will notify you of our plans for transport from where you are staying to Lima and the military airport there.”

And while he confirmed that neither of the people who tested positive in the Pariwana Hostel are Irish citizens, he also said he had spoken to “one Irish citizen staying at the same hostel”.

And he said: ”For any Irish citizens unable to join a evacuation flight for any reason we will be coordinating closely with the UK and EU partners and our honorary consul in Lima to identify solutions to help you travel home as soon as circumstances allow.”

He warned against anybody trying to book a commercial flight out of Peru after the current state of emergency is lifted.

“We are not recommending booking future commercial flights at this point until it becomes clear as to whether or not the current restrictions will be extended,” he said.

And he added: “Please be rest-assured our team here in the region and Dublin are working all hours we can to try and get you home as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, at least three Irish citizens trapped in Peru are medics trying to get back to Ireland to help in the fight against Covid-19.

Another is believed to be a relative of the Housing Minister.

Lesley Ann Devereux, from Greystones, Co Wicklow, said she is grateful to Simon Coveney and his officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

She urged them to “please continue to do all you can to get Irish citizens out of the provincial cities and towns of Peru.”

Lesley-Ann, who is believed to be related to Eoghan Murphy, added: “Please get Irish citizens on board a repatriation flight home before we end up quarantined for months.”

Lesley Ann Devereux
Lesley Ann Devereux

One of the tourists, who asked not to be named, told the Irish Examiner last night: “Myself and my girlfriend are both healthcare professionals from Dublin, both employed by the HSE.

“We both desperately want to get home to help as frontline staff which is what we are.

“Currently we are in Barranco in an Airbnb incredibly frustrated by the lack of flight home so far.”

Another health worker, from Co Louth, who asked not to be named, is in one the remote Peruvian city of Iquitos.

It can’t be reached by land and access for them and two other Irish citizens in the city is "extra difficult”.

The plane journey to Lima is two hours but if they went by boat the journey would take up to five days.

They said the Austrian Ambassador in Iquitos has been trying to organize a flight for all 190 EU and British citizens stranded in Iquitos to bring them to Lima.

“This seems to be a next to impossible task due to the strict Peruvian restrictions and the lack of communication coming from the Peruvian authorities,” they said.

They say they have been based in a single hotel room since the military lockdown.

“I have left the room for less than 1 hour a day and that is to go and get supplies from the local supermarket,” they said.

“I have a five-year-old child and a wonderful partner at home worried sick.

“It is an extremely slow process here and extremely worrying times for myself and all involved here in Iquitos and other cities far from Lima.”

Their local TD Fergus O’Dowd has “been very helpful so far with getting in touch with Paul Gleason from the Irish Embassy in Chile”, they added.

Tourists learn of quarantine from poster in hostel lobby

Tourists at Cusco’s quarantined Pariwana Hostel in the southeastern city received official confirmation they were quarantined from a letter posted on a wall in the lobby area yesterday.

It stated that “from this moment on all the people inside the hostel go into absolute quarantine”.

A manager explained: “The result of our guests tested positive for Covid-19.

“I must clarify they did not bring the virus to the hotel.

“So it is possible we have more infections among us.

“It is for them that more rigorous measures were taken regarding personal hygiene.”

He said he knew this news was not “not easy to hear” but he vowed to do all he could to make sure “we can live together in the best way during the quarantine”.

He said he is currently “working on the plan that we must all comply with during our quarantine which can last one month to 3 months”.

And he warned them that the length of time the quarantine lasts for “will only depend on us”.

He also warned them: “I must also clarify that failure to comply with these regulations issued by the government and through can lead to private custody between five and 10 years.

“Each guest must have their own cutlery and their own plate, which will be washed by them,” he said.

“They will only have permission to be in the common areas for one hour during the day.

“Handwashing will be constant, the use of masks will be mandatory and no one can be less than 1 m away from another person.

“If we comply with these rules the time in quarantine can be reduced because this way we will have fewer infections.

“Otherwise the infections will continue to spread and the quarantine time will be longer.”

And he said: “I hope we all understand this is going to be a team effort.

“It is up to each of us to do our part to get out of this together, take care of yourselves and take care of others."

More in this section