SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - A Summerville couple is stuck in Peru after the country’s borders closed with only a 24-hour notice, and now the husband’s heart medication is starting to run out.
“If he doesn’t get his medication, then his blood pressure will be dangerously high," Mehndi Jager said. “We had no idea our stay was going to be this long, so obviously we didn’t pack that much medicine, and we’re going to be running out within the next couple days. The pharmacies here are still open, but the blood pressure medicine my husband takes isn’t available here.”
The couple has been staying in a short-term rental in Lima, the capital city, since they first arrived there on vacation. But, on Sunday, they found out that Peru’s president ordered the borders to be closed.
“He gave a 24-hour notice," Jager said. "So, unless we had a ticket to get out that next Monday, you weren’t going to make it out. I called our airline who we had tickets through already for our return tickets home. I was told the earliest I could get a return flight home was May.”
The Jager’s have a 4-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son waiting for them at home. They’ve been staying with their grandparents during the vacation.
“We’ve painted the picture to our kids that we’re still on a vacation," Jager said. "We don’t want to get them worrying for no reason. They’re excited and asking us what we’re doing on our vacation, are we loving it, are we having fun.”
But the idea of being on vacation has long been over for the couple. Right now, the earliest they could be leaving is April.
“Here in Peru, especially in the capital city, they have deployed pretty much martial law. There are military personnel patrolling the streets and police patrolling the streets at all times. You can not go outside," Jager said. “The roads are barricaded and blocked by personnel. They’re stopping everyone who is walking and ask you, ‘Where you are going?’"
Within minutes of reaching out to Senator Lindsey Graham’s office, spokesperson Kevin Bishop responded. He said to give them his cell phone number, and he’ll direct them to the best resources.
“We are working to help a number of South Carolina residents who are stuck in Peru and an assortment of other countries," Bishop said. "I’d say we have more than a dozen who are stuck in Peru, Honduras, and others. It’s a real problem.”
Senator Tim Scott’s spokesperson Sean Smith said the senator sent a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo on Friday afternoon, the text of which is below.
“He encouraged them to expedite the return of American citizens as safely and quickly as possible,” Smith said. “The letter mentions a list of folks. We obviously can’t share that publicly due to privacy issues, but it is being included when sent to State.”
Scott’s letter reads:
Dear Secretary Pompeo,
As you know, due to COVID-19 many countries shut down their borders with very limited or no notice to individuals from other countries. As a result, there are American citizens stuck in multiple countries with no means of returning home.
My staff has been working with the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management this past week to identify American citizens in the various countries (see the attached list). We appreciate your working with us to help these individuals.
It was brought to our attention early today that a South Carolinian currently unable to leave Peru is running out of their heart medication. I am both concerned for their health, as well as the probability others are also in this situation. The longer our American citizens are unable to return home, the potential medical issues will escalate, not to mention financial pressures placed on those being forced to pay for lodging and other expenses for far longer than they anticipated.
Please expedite as quickly and as safely as possible the return of American citizens to our country. This is a difficult time for all of us, and we need to bring our citizens back home to their families. If my staff or I can be of assistance, please contact me immediately.
Senator Tim Scott