Will Munro Duncan is one of over three hundred Australians currently stranded in Peru, after the third world country enforced a full 15-day military lockdown on March 16, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The country was given just over 24 hours notice that the lockdown would be coming into effect.
Speaking to NITV News from his motel room in the small northern town of San Antonio De Cumbaza, Mr Munro Duncan says he’s rattled due to the breakneck speed of what happened.
“We weren’t given proper time to move, adjust our travel or anything to get from A to B. Everything is closed down. It’s a military lockdown, the Australian Embassy in Lima is working from home, we are all in contact via email,” he says.
“I’m on my ninth day of isolation. Our movement is monitored, and we need exemptions to get from one place to another. There’s no transport no taxis, no buses. I can’t speak Spanish so I have to wait for the rare occasion for someone to interpret for me.”
During an overnight curfew from 8pm to 5am, people can only venture out to go to the shops or the pharmacy, then must go straight back to their place of residence. There are also armed authorities patrolling the streets to enforce the measures.
Mr Munro Duncan has been backpacking around South American for five months and has been in Peru since February 1. He said that at first his experience of the country was “beautiful” but since the Coronavirus outbreak, things have changed dramatically.
“The Peruvian people can’t afford healthcare so they are all on edge from this virus, they’re very edgy. Some of them even thought we brought the virus to the communities, so they’re looking at us like that.” He said.
The Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is currently in negotiations with Latin American travel company Chimu Adventures to try and secure a charter flight to bring Australians home from Peru and other Central American countries. On the Chimu Adventures website it says that
“Directors met again with DFAT on Monday morning 23rd of March 2020. We now await final international government authorisations. 5pm 25/03/2020 discussions continue.”
Mr Munro Duncan is a member of a Facebook group with other Australians in the country. He has been told that the charter flight would cost $5000 and must be paid upfront, despite no flight times locked in or any guarantee that the flight is happening. He currently has approximately five hundred Australian dollars left in his account and says he would still need to pay for accommodation and expenses if he had to travel to Lima, where the flight would be based.
The 33-year-old said he last heard from the Australian Embassy one day ago, where he was told to “sit tight and follow authorities’ direction” until more information comes to hand. Without clarity, he’s fearful of what happens next.
“My visa is running out. I am scared of being an illegal immigrant in this country, and I am losing my mind you can clearly see … I’m just going on a wing and a prayer. Someone come and save me please because I feel like this is the last place I am ever going to be and I have no one to help me,” he says.
“My family are worried about me, I’m worried myself, I don’t know what to do.”