USA study abroad group back in the U.S. after being stuck in Peru due to COVID-19

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MOBILE, Ala (WKRG) — A study abroad trip of a lifetime in Peru for a group of paramedic students with The University of South Alabama and other Universities took a turn for the worse when the Peruvian government decided to close their borders and put a travel ban in place.

We spoke with two of those students who were able to make it out last Monday night, just a minute before the Peruvian borders closed. One of those students, Maddie Jones says it all happened so fast.

“When we got there, there was only one reported case. Then when we decided to come home, there was 20. And by the day we decided to leave, there were 77 or something like that. Now there is over 300. It is crazy how it all happening overnight.” Jones says.

Jones’ roommate Sydney Valentine tells us the group was about a week into the trip when they decided on Friday the 13th, they needdc to head home for their safety because of the coronavirus pandemic. She said they took that weekend to soak up the last few days they had in Peru, when they were on a bus heading back to where they were staying, things changed.

“We got an email from the U.S. Embassy saying that the Peruvian government had made the decision to shutdown the borders and put a travel ban in place starting at midnight on Monday. So it was less than 26 hours for us to find a way to get out,” Valentine said.

Luckily, Valentine and Jones were able to find the last two seats on a flight on March 16 out of Peru for 11:59 p.m., just one minute before the borders closed. Unfortunately that forced them to leave the rest of their group behind.

“It was the hardest decision that we have both had to make,” Valentine said. “Leaving behind people you care about is not an easy thing to do.”

Wednesday morning, the State Travel Department tweeted that they were negotiating safe passage of U.S. citizens to airports.

Luckily shortly after this tweet was made, the rest of the study abroad group was able to board a plane heading back to the U.S.

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