Cork couple repatriated home from Peru fear they may have virus

Andrew Cotter and Marie Barry arrived back in Cork yesterday.
Cork couple repatriated home from Peru fear they may have virus
Marie Barry and Andrew Cotter.

A Cork couple who were repatriated home from Peru fears they may now have the virus.

Andrew Cotter and Marie Barry arrived back in Cork yesterday.

They have now gone straight into isolation for the next 14 days but expect to self-isolate for longer.

Their journey back to Cork took three days and included a 20-hour journey on a packed bus, followed by an overnight flight on a British Airways plane to London that was - again - packed.

“It was impossible to socially distance ourselves,” Mr Cotter, a 31-year-old pharma worker from Mitchelstown, said.

He said that when he and Ms Barry, 30, from Conna, arrived back in Dublin from London before flying onto Cork, HSE staff met them and advised them what to do.

“We were given information when we arrived and were advised to self restrict movements to 14 days and we’ve to read through all the literature they gave us,” he said.

“So we are going to do that.

“We are going to stay away from our families and stuff.”

A car was dropped off for the couple by their family and they drove themselves to a house in a remote part of west Cork.

“We won't see anybody we know for a few weeks and maybe even longer because I have to go back to work,” he said.

He said later that getting the virus is "a consideration".

And he added: "If we show symptoms, we will obviously follow GP instructions.

Regardless, however, until we each pass a 14-day period symptom-free, we won't be in contact with anybody now.

He was full of praise for Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and his staff.

“If I could meet Simon Coveney I would shake his hand,” he said.

“I appreciate I can’t at the moment but I thank him very much.

“There was a lot of hard work behind the scenes by him and his officials and the ambassador in Chile and his officials.”

The couple was among 130 Irish citizens who were trapped in Peru over the past two weeks after martial law was introduced and its borders were closed.

A hostel near where they were staying in the southeastern city of Cusco was put into quarantine after two guests tested positive for the virus.

If it had spread to the hostel where they were staying, they faced up to three months in a military-enforced quarantine too.

In addition, food was starting to be rationed, and in some parts of Peru, there was growing hostility against foreigners.

Mr Cotter said: “It was only getting worse every day, especially towards the last five or six days.

“There was something new every day that we weren't expecting and we didn’t know how to react, so we are very lucky to get out.

“And we have to thank everybody who helped us get out all the TDs and everyone we got onto.”

He said that there were even issues with the flight, and at one point they weren’t even sure if they were going to get out.

“There was supposed to be a 4pm flight out but the timetable changed,” he said.

“The Peruvian government decided to change things all of a sudden.”

Ms Barry said: “Things changed all the time until the very last minute.

“We were informed the bus from Cusco to Lima initially was going to be 10am but during the night, we got an email saying we should get the 11am in a different location.

“There was always something threatening to spoil everything.”

Mr Cotter added: “Even when we were about to take off, the Peruvians were threatening to come on board again to check to see how many people were on the plane and things like that.

“It was as smooth as it could have been but we weren’t confident until we were in the air.”

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